In an announcement coinciding with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford said it will begin using a new, lower cost LiDAR sensor made by California-based Velodyne. The high cost of such sensors, which act as the eyes of a self-driving car, is one of the main technical obstacles to widespread commercialization of self-driving vehicles, industry executives say.
Ford said it will be the first automaker to use Velodyne's new solid state 'hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto' sensor. The compact device replaces the spinning scanners mounted on the rooftops of some autonomous test vehicles. Ford said two of these sensors could replace four current LiDAR sensors. The Ultra PUCKs are small enough to mount on a side-view mirror, Ford said.
Ford said it will add 20 hybrid Ford Fusion sedans to its existing 10-vehicle self-driving car fleet, and test them on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. Rival automakers are also testing fleets of self-driving cars on and off public roads. Alphabet Inc's Google has been testing
self-driving cars of various kinds, including some of its own design, since 2009.