Google and Tesla are both investing millions of dollars into developing self-driving cars. Since this is a relatively new field, one would expect certain similarities in the technologies employed by both Google and Tesla. But the technologies both tech-giants use are worlds apart. Of course, the entire concept revolves around use of sensors and mapping technology, with carefully embedded software that help the cars learn their environment and act accordingly but there is one major difference in Google and Tesla self-driving cars. The difference stems in the sensing technology or the eyes of the cars.
If a car were to drive itself, it makes sense the first and foremost ability a car is given, is the ability to see without which a car won’t be able to make decisions and navigate safely on the road. So it all boils down to what sort of sensors to use in order make a car’s sight effective and efficient.
Google Self-Driving Cars
Google self-driving cars use LIDAR (light-sensing radar) which uses lasers to map an outline, quite the detailed outline too, of the world around it. The concept is similar to sonar, only instead of sound, lasers are projected that allows the car to learn distances between the car and other objects around it. LIDAR is considered to be the best technology available by some analysts and experts since it is considered highly accurate and allows the car to localize its position on a particular map. But LIDAR is very expensive. It can cost as must as $80,000 for just one sensor.
Tesla Self-Driving Cars
Tesla on the other hand uses a totally different set of eyes for their self-driving cars. Tesla, while talking about LIDAR and how it’s not needed to fully automate a car noted,
I don’t think you need LIDAR. I think you can do this all with passive optical and then with maybe one forward RADAR. I think that completely solves it without the use of LIDAR. I’m not a big fan of LIDAR, I don’t think it makes sense in this context.
So instead, Tesla has opted for high-tech camera sensors as the primary tool in their self-driving cars. What’s more is Tesla self-driving cars are also equipped with 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors. These sensors can provide a 360 degree view while a forward facing RADAR system helps the autopilot system. The forward facing RADAR system is mounted on the front of the rearview mirror. It feeds data into an advanced software that not only measures distances, but also detect pedestrians and read signs.
Of course, Tesla’s methods are cheaper, and they have been building vehicles with the aforementioned technology since October last year but, there is still a huge possibility of Tesla self-driving cars featuring LIDAR eventually when the prices come down. While LIDAR is more expensive, it is certainly more convenient, and perhaps safer.You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.