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Making Lidar cheaper

How Lidar "sees." Photo/Velodyne

Lidar — the contraption on top of self-driving test vehicles that uses lasers to "see" — costs a ton of money: around $85,000. The full bill for other sensors, cameras, radar etc. required for future hands-off driving can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus the price of the car itself.

Mike Jellen, president of Velodyne, a key maker of Lidar equipment, claims the price will plummet under $10,000 once self-driving cars are selling in the hundreds of thousands or millions. The issue of Lidar's cost "is all marketing hype for new entrants," Jellen told Axios.

Why it matters: This is part of a technological war over the development of sensors, the winner of which could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue if the world does turn to self-driving vehicles en-masse, as many analysts predict. The losers? Primarily, the millions of professional truck and taxi drivers around the world who may be shoved out of work.