Competition is hotting up among autonomous vehicle manufacturers. In California, no fewer than 37 self-driving car developers have now registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to carry out road testing of their technology. Apart from complying with the regulations, there are still clearly some technical issues to overcome before autonomous vehicles come into general use on the highways and by-ways. Now Berkeley-based startup Zendar has set out to provide assistance in one vital area. The fledgling company, which has just completed a spell of incubation at Y Combinator, is working on the development of a new generation of high-resolution radar that performs well in poor weather. The Zendar technology combines the advantages of traditional radar – which does not provide high-resolution images but works perfectly well in a low-visibility environment – and lidar, which does offer high-resolution but uses light waves to spot obstacles and estimate distances so is less reliable in rainy or cloudy conditions. Zendar's aim is thus to ensure that a car can run with full autonomy and in complete safety, come rain, hail, fog, snow or blow. The company is anticipating that close to 10 million autonomous vehicles will be built over the next three years. If the new Zendar radar system lives up to its promise, the manufacturers should be flocking to incorporate it into their cars, leaving only the potential customers to be won over.
By Sophia Qadiri