lidar. VW relies on lasers for autonomous cars

When it comes to autonomous driving, VW boss Herbert Diess sails on a confrontational course with his buddy Elon Musk. Autonomous VW will only be available with lidar.

As the first boss of an international car manufacturer, Herbert Diess opened an account with the American social news aggregator and immediately distanced himself more than clearly from his buddy Elon Musk . When it comes to autonomous driving, the VW boss sees no alternative to using laser scanners, so-called lidar sensors. Lidar stands for "light detection and ranging" and is a method for measuring distances related to radar ("radiowave detection and ranging"). According to Diess, the lidar technology is expensive, but there is no alternative to being able to drive safely autonomously in the car from level 3. Redundancy is the key here. Only together with a 360-degree camera view, radar and lidar data can a reliable image of the environment be created.

The best example: The start-up Argo.AI, operated jointly by VW and Ford, is currently preparing the VW ID.Buzz for use as a fully autonomous shuttle. In addition to the self-developed long-range lidar on the roof, there are five other short-range laser sensors distributed around the car. Together with eleven radar sensors and 14 cameras, this setup ensures a multiple redundant, fail-safe 360-degree all-round view. A huge effort, which will also be reflected in a slimmed-down form in the group's series models, which should have everything on board when the first Trinity car 2026 is launched in order to be able to drive autonomously after Level 3. In order to keep costs manageable for customers, VW is even considering renting out the autonomous services by the hour !

Elon Musk and the "fools"

And Diess buddy Elon Musk? He does it completely differently. Tesla only has lidar sensors for test purposes, Elon Musk has repeatedly emphasized that lidar is only for fools. Too expensive, too complicated. Tesla has now completely rebuilt its assistant, originally named "Auto Pilot" . "Tesla Vision" relies exclusively on cameras and even does without radar sensors . At Tesla, only cameras provide the 360-degree view, the images of which are translated into a three-dimensional image of the environment by a high-performance computer on board. The data collected by the huge Tesla fleet worldwide should help to be able to recognize objects or obstacles in almost real time. Nevertheless, even the Tesla models that have been upgraded with the latest software and hardware are currently only driving in an extended Level 2 mode. Level 3 autonomy, in which the vehicle takes over responsibility for driving from the driver, at least in a clearly defined environment, is only available from Mercedes as of February 2022. The so-called " Drive Pilot " starts in the S-Class and will also be available for the Mercedes EQS shortly afterwards. Always mandatory on board: a lidar sensor.


Autonomous driving without lidar? Only Tesla currently dares to do this, but still has no proof of a level 3 system that can be approved. VW boss Diess used his first appearance on Reddit to clearly distance himself from Elon Musk at this point. At VW there will be no autonomous car without lidar. But that certainly doesn't change the fact that the two automotive alpha animals still maintain a fairly friendly relationship.


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