Pioneer Reveals Mirror Technology for Future Cars

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Pioneer booth at CES
 Pioneer made headline news as it showed this week the first prototypes of a swiveling, microscopic mirror that can replace the over-large and expensive autonomous car contraptions seen on top of “Google Cars” (Waymo driverless cars) and other autonomous vehicles.
The mirrors bounce pulses of light from the surrounding objects in a new type of lidar or laser radar. They were shown at the Tokyo Motor Show this week and stake Pioneer’s claim in the new autonomous car market.  The company is already shipping samples of the mirrors with mass production expected to begin in 2020 at under $100 per mirror.

“Our advantage is that we have long experience in both the optical field as well as car navigation,’’ Pioneer senior exec Satoshi Ohdate told Bloomberg. So Pioneer is drawing on its experience in optical and DVD technology as well as its expertise in navigation and digital signal processing.

Pioneer’s “3D-LIDAR” is incorporated in a MEMS mirror using a small aperture with a lens.  It can precisely measure the distance to a remote object and detect the size of an object and determine its shape.  Pioneer calls the technology “indispensable” when it comes to autonomous cars.  The technology is also low cost.

Pioneer is also using digital signal processing to improve the measurement of dark colored and distant objects, which is difficult to achieve with conventional lidar.

Pioneer will be competing with companies including Velodyne, which has the backing of Ford and several startups.

 

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