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Autonomous vehicle spy doubles on technology that is destroyed by Musk



Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of Aurora Innovation Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A pioneer in autonomous driving doubles on a self-propelled technology called lidar that uses sensors to navigate through traffic – just a few weeks after Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the technology "freaking stupid."

Aurora CEO Chris Urmson said the company acquired Blackmore, which develops and manufactures sensors, for a non-disclosed sum. Light detection and stretching technology uses light in the form of a pulsating laser to measure the distance of objects from cars, drones and other gadgets.

"Lidar is critical to developing the safest and most reliable self-propelled system, one that can navigate our roads more safely than a human driver," Urmson said in a statement on the purchase of Blackmore.

Urmson's belief in lidar is important given his track record and reputation of developing autonomous vehicles. For many years, Urmson has been running Google's self-propelled car project, which was later called Waymo, the autonomous vehicle company widely regarded as a leader in vans. Urmson left Google in 201

6 shortly before the technology giant rebranded its self-propelled car program.

Urmson's approval of lidar technology is in stark contrast to the Tesla Group's opinion. In April, Musk presented the company's plan to have up to 1 million robot axes-Teslas that will be completely autonomous.

Close-up of the self-propelled miniature, with LIDAR and other sensor units and logo visible, part of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc, is driving past the historic railway station with sign reading Mountain View, in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, with security driver visible October 28 2018.

Smith Collection / Gado | Archive photos | Getty Images

The key to this plan is Tesla's autopilot technology. Tesla's Navigate on the Autopilot system relies mainly on cameras that see the road and the data of the car's computers, which in turn helps to navigate by car through traffic. Tesla's autopilot does not use lidar, which is a series of sensors capable of looking around cars and trucks to help autonomous cars steer through traffic.

"In cars it's freaking stupid. It's expensive and unnecessary," said Musk about the lidar technology. "When you solve vision, it's worthless."

Aurora, Waymo, General Motor Cruise and other car manufacturers and technology companies find Musk's vision of lidar to be short-term and wrong. They have invested heavily in using lidar in the autonomous vehicles and technology they develop and test.

In the case of Aurora says Urmson Blackmore's lidar "can look forward with less force, measure speed instantly and is less prone to the challenges of heavy weather.

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