One of the striking features that made Tesla an outlier in the electric vehicle market was its early adoption of autonomous self-driving technology. Now, it is reported that rival company Lucid Motors also plans to equip the new Air luxury electric sedan with a semi-automated driver assistance system that parallels many of Tesla’s features.
The Lucid Air, which will compete for the same segment as the Tesla Model S, will have standard features such as adaptive cruise control, lane centring, automatic emergency brakes and automated parking.
It will also be one of the first production vehicles to be equipped with standard lidar, a laser-based sensor that detects obstacles and objects, including pedestrians, as part of the vehicle’s collision avoidance system.
We reported that Tesla does not use the lidar technology on its vehicles as it is considered costly and the same result can be achieved with handful of cameras. The high quality and trustworthiness are achieved thanks to complex processing and neural nets that make sense of the wide range and quality of inputs.
On the other hand, ‘traditional’ lidar-based systems rely on an array of invisible lasers or similar tech. These send a huge number of pings out into the world to detect surrounding objects, in order to create a real-time 3D visualisation of the world around the vehicle based on the distance of each laser point.
Tesla chief Elon Musk has never been an advocate of the common lidar-system due to its high cost and he defined it “a fool’s errand”.
The new Lucid Air and Tesla although both equipped with highly technological systems do not offer the possibility of true hands-free driving. Even when the autopilot and the self-driving mode are activated, drivers must still keep their hands on the steering wheel.
The Air will be produced in a new plant in Casa Grande in Arizona, between Phoenix and Tucson.
Every day it seems that a new and upcoming rival of Tesla is gearing up to take over the throne, but this company could actually have the right cards to pull it off as the CEO is Peter Rawlinson, who is the former chief engineer of the Tesla Model S. Also, Lucid will have the cashflow to keep blossoming as the company is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which invested $1 billion in the Silicon Valley startup in 2018.
Unfortunately, for now the car is not available in the UK, and it is expected to first arrive only the American market. The pricing of the Lucid is expected in the coming weeks. A Tesla Model S starts around $75,000, so we believe that the starting price should be in the same range.