CEO Elon Musk previously stated that Tesla would not use lidar, but after being caught on a test run, rumors and confusion began to circulate after a car was spotted with lidar sensors.
The majority of companies working on a self-driving system are relying on the use of lidar sensors.
Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is the method for determining ranges by targeting an object with a laser and then measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver.
Tesla has decided to tackle a different approach and is betting on 100% pure computer vision using deliberately placed cameras.
In previous claims, CEO Elon Musk has said that ‘lidar technology has been overblown’ and has described it as a ‘distraction to achieving full self-driving capability.’
And after being spotted out and about, a Tesla test vehicle utilizing Luminar lidar sensors has begun to confuse people on the direction of the vehicle.
— Grayson Brulte (@gbrulte) May 20, 2021
Presumably so, this confusion led to rumors and speculation that Tesla could be considering a change of tune when it comes to the use of lidar sensors. This spin even led to Luminar’s share price to climb the ladder earlier this week.
Though the buzz is new, the testing is not. Tesla has been known to use lidar sensors in its test vehicles all the way back to 2016.
And though Tesla still has no plan or aspiration to bring the sensors to production vehicles, the company instead uses them for ground-truthing.
A comment from the automaker stated:
The claim that Tesla may be planning to use LiDAR as part of its self-driving hardware suite is fundamentally untrue. We regularly test our own technologies against other sensors to calibrate our camera, sonar and radar system.
And still there remains no evidence that the tune has changed over the past few years.
In fact, the reality has driven Elon Musk to double down on the computer vision approach and the automaker does not want to even rely on radar – at all.
The next update for Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta program will rely solely on cameras.
The current idea is that the only ‘known’ system that is capable of driving at this time is the human brain, which relies solely on input from human eyes – which are the closest things to cameras.
With cameras positioned all around the vehicle, retrieving a multitude of views, Tesla is able to achieve greater vision than humans. The problem now becomes only solving computer vision, and the automaker firmly believes it is solving that problem as the days pass.