Tesla

Lidar costs $75,000 per car. If the price doesn't drop to a few hundred bucks, driverless cars won't go mass market.

Lidar costs $75,000 per car. If the price doesn't drop to a few hundred bucks, driverless cars won't go mass market.

As the real-world deployment of driverless cars draws near, the race is on to make them even remotely affordable. The systems that currently drive robot cars cost upward of $100,000 per vehicle – not counting the cost of the car itself.

Until that price comes down, there will be no mass market for driverless cars.

As many as 50 start-ups are out to get costs way down, along with the research and development departments at automakers and auto industry suppliers, and Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Apple. Much of their focus is on the most expensive item in the computerized system that controls a robot car: laser-based sensors, or lidar.

The latest competitor is a...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
73°