Nissan Is the Latest Company to Experiment With LiDar For Self-Driving Cars

Nissan is improving its self-driving collision aversion system using a combination of LiDar technology, cameras and radar.
Written by Allison Stone
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The concept of
autonomous driving technology
or a self-driving car may seem as farfetched as establishing a colony on Mars, but the truth is that self-driving technology has been available in commercial passenger vehicles in one form or another since in the early 1990s. 
The first-ever adaptive cruise control system using LiDar sensors was offered by Mitsubishi in 1992, and was first used by
in the Japanese market Nissan Cima in 1999. 
Nissan is now in the works to improve upon its autonomous driving system with next-generation LiDar technology with what has been dubbed “ground truth perception technology.” 
The new automatic collision avoidance system can detect the size, shape and distance of objects, as well as the structure of the surrounding area in real-time. It uses this information to instantly make performance decisions and execute avoidance maneuvers or lane changes. But how does this technology work, and what does it mean for the future of automated driving?

What is LiDar technology?

LiDar, or “Light Detection and Ranging” is, simply put, a type of remote sensor technology that uses lasers to measure the distance between objects. LiDar targets an object or surface with a laser, and then is able to calculate distance by measuring the time it takes for the reflected light to return to the receiver. 
The most common application of LiDar technology is in creating high-resolution maps. An airplane, for example, can fly over a range of forrest equipped with a LiDar instrument and generate a 3D map of that area. It’s also the same technology that law enforcement uses to read speed limits when monitoring traffic violations. 
Among LiDar’s many applications, its role in autonomous driving systems is one that truly pushes the boundaries of just how much this technology can do. You can easily imagine the use-case for LiDar when it comes to self-driving cars, being able to identify and map out a car’s surroundings on the fly would be invaluable.
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A self-driving future

When thinking about self-driving cars, many people might picture a commuter on their way to work who is able to go totally hands-off while behind the wheel, but autonomous driving technology has a much more complex value when it comes to creating advanced driver safety systems. 
The goal of autonomous driving is to change the way we drive by making it safer, first and foremost. The technology being developed by Nissan can not only detect a vehicle’s surroundings, but can also detect slowed traffic or road obstacles from a distance. 
“We are confident that our in-development ground truth perception technology will make a significant contribution to owner confidence, reduced traffic accidents and autonomous driving in the future,” said Nissan senior vice president of global R&D, as reported by
The automaker has also teamed up with tech companies Luminar for hardware and Applied Intuition to run simulations. 
Nissan intends to complete the development of this technology by 2025. By 2030, they predict that ground truth perception technology will be made standard for all new models. 

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