YPSILANTI TWP., Mich. (WJBK) - Ready or not, it's happening -- autonomous cars are more than just casual tech talk.
Six companies from across the world are in Ypsilanti this week trying to convince auto makers that their technology is the one they should put in the driver's seat.
Velodyne is the oldest company making lidars, which use light from a laser that serves as the eyes of a vehicle. Companies are in town trying to convince automakers that their lidars should lead the way.
"(The radar-like technology) has 360-degree situational awareness from 200-300 meters," said Dan Cowan, Velodyne. "Which is more than three football fields away. You can see 360 degrees around you."
Whereas the human eye can't see that. When you're looking out the rear view mirror, you're not looking straight ahead or out the right or left side. These lidars can see everything further than we can.
Another company auditioning for the lofty lidar lead role in the auto industry is Ouster Incorporated out of San Francisco. Their lidar system is leaner and smarter than the competition, the CEO will tell you.
Angus Pacala says before you put the brakes on the idea of this, remember you accepted a piece of this technology when cruise control accelerated into its current role.
"Adaptive cruise control got pushed into cars and all of the sudden the car was driving the peddles," he said. "You know the computer was pushing the pedals, and people just kind of accepted it. I mean that's crazy it was driving the car."
What was crazy before, is now in our current cars.
Another company vying for the auto companies' attention is Valeo. They're already attaching built in lidar systems in cars like the Audi A 8.
Whether you want this tech in your car or not, you'll start seeing lidar tech in autonomous shuttles. Navya has placed one on the campus of the University of Michigan. The French company hoping to be part of your future car's DNA.
"We have 68 vehicles that are commercially deployed around the world and 16 different countries," said Aaron Foster, Navya. "So it's not a matter of when these vehicles will be on the road but when will is it going to be in your town.”