‘Anyone relying on lidar is doomed,’ Elon Musk says

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Today at Tesla’s first Autonomy Day event, Elon Musk took questions from the press but didn’t have time for questions about lidar. Historically, he’s been vocal about the technology, and this time he put it as clear as he could.

“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” Elon Musk said. “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed. Doomed! [They are] expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices. Like, one appendix is bad, well now you have a whole bunch of them, it’s ridiculous, you’ll see.”

The topic was brought up by a question about if Tesla’s just-revealed self-driving hardware could handle input from lidar. Tesla’s vehicle’s currently uses several sources of data to acquire autonomous driving: radar, GPS, maps, ultrasonic sensors and more. But not lidar like some of Tesla’s chief competitors. Elon Musk previously explained that he views lidar as a crutch for self-driving vehicles. For Tesla, cameras are the keys to the future and its CEO sees a future when cameras will enable Tesla to see through the most adverse weather situations.

Andrej Karparthy, Senior Director of AI, took the stage and explained that the world is built for visual recognition. Lidar systems, he