Would it be pos­si­ble for au­tonomous cars to use echolo­ca­tion like a bat in order to scan their sur­round­ings?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q & A - RHYS ABUL,

Send­ing out sound waves and lis­ten­ing for their echo is a great way to de­tect ob­sta­cles in wa­ter – sub­marines can de­tect ob­jects many kilo­me­tres away. But sound doesn’t travel nearly so well in air. Bats can only de­tect ob­jects up to 20 me­tres away, fall­ing to around 2 me­tres in poor con­di­tions. Light is less af­fected by at­mo­spheric con­di­tions, which is why self-driv­ing cars use LIDAR (‘light de­tec­tion and rang­ing’), bounc­ing in­frared laser light off ob­jects in order to de­tect them.

LIDAR cre­ates a ‘map’ of a driver­less car’s sur­round­ings

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