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Pioneer Leaps Into Driverless Car Fray With Microscopic Mirrors

  • Pioneer’s lidar technology uses tiny, swiveling mirrors
  • Devices to cost under $100, production planned as soon as 2020
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Race To Build Self-Driving Cars Accelerates

When it comes to helping driverless cars see, automakers have a choice between bulky top-mounted contraptions or cheaper but unproven laser-on-a-chip technology. Pioneer Corp. thinks it can deliver the best of both worlds.

The Japanese company has developed a new type of lidar -- or laser radar -- intended to drive its expansion into the burgeoning field of autonomous cars. At the Tokyo Motor Show this week, it’s showing off prototypes for the first time that use a swiveling, microscopic mirror to bounce pulses of light from surrounding objects. Because the device doesn’t employ the motor drive of its larger spinning cousins, it comes in a smaller package with a lower chance of mechanical failure.