2 Ford test vehicles merge todays driver-assist technologies with LiDAR sensors to generate a real-time 3D map

Would it be possible for driverless cars to use echolocation?

Bat use it to scan their surroundings, maybe the same could be used for cars...

Asked by: Rhys Abul, Southampton

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Sending out sound waves and listening for their echo is a great way to detect obstacles in water – submarines can detect objects many kilometres away. But sound doesn’t travel nearly so well in air. Bats can only detect objects up to 20 metres away, falling to around two metres in poor conditions. Light is less affected by atmospheric conditions, which is why self-driving cars use LIDAR (‘light detection and ranging’), bouncing infrared laser light off objects in order to detect them.

Cyclists ride on roads and pavements, which can confuse the technology in autonomous cars © Getty Images

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