Report: Tesla’s Buying LiDAR Sensors After All


report tesla s buying lidar sensors after all

Most of the media and internet pundits have been zeroed in on Tesla’s layoffs and what they could mean for the automaker and industry at large, but there’s another reported change in its operations that could signal a significant shift in how its vehicles are built. After CEO Elon Musk’s poo-pooing of LiDAR technology, Tesla now appears to be buying the sensors and has become a primary customer of a major supplier.

Luminar Technologies recently reported that Tesla was its largest LiDAR customer in the first quarter of 2024, with the automaker accounting for more than ten percent of its revenues during the first three months of the year. The technology uses lasers to build a picture of a vehicle’s surroundings, but Tesla has moved to camera/vision-based tech in its most recent builds.

While neither is perfect, the general consensus is that a combination of sensors, including camera, LiDAR, and other tech, is the best path forward. LiDAR is significantly more expensive than cameras alone, likely driving Tesla’s decision to cut it from production.

Reports of this move come as Tesla faces increased regulatory scrutiny for its driver assistance features, though much of its troubles come from how it monitors drivers’ behavior rather than external sensor functionality. It’s more likely that the automaker will employ LiDAR in its upcoming Robotaxi initiative, which is expected to be revealed in August.

Tesla would be well-served to consider employing LiDAR sensors in its consumer vehicles as well. Volvo will roll out the first Luminar sensors in the upcoming XC90, and criticisms of how vehicles read the world around them will only become more intense as time goes on. The automaker could use a win, and anything that helps convince regulators that it’s focused on safety would be helpful to its cause.

[Image: kovop via Shutterstock]

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