July 21, 2020

4 Advantages of Using Lidar Technology in Headlamps for Autonomous Vehicle Design

Light Detection and Ranging technology, commonly known as lidar, is one of the fundamental sensing technologies that is advancing autonomous vehicle design—and for good reason. Compared to other sensing technologies, such as radar, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and infrared sensors, lidar is a comprehensive solution that can meet the need for range, accuracy, and precision as well as for functionality in a variety of driving conditions, as illustrated in the chart below:

Capability Short Range Radar (24 GHz) Long Range Radar (77 GHz) Ultrasonic Vision Infra Red Lidar
Short Range 
(0 to 2 m)
Nominal Range

Long Range

Wide Vertical FOV >30°            
Night Operation            


Needs Improvement
Barely Satisfactory
Very Good
Ideal Solution

*Source: "LiDAR: Driving the Future of Autonomous Navigation", Frost & Sullivan, 2016

With its advanced range and resolution, lidar is on track to becoming the industry standard for autonomous vehicle sensing technology, especially as a growing number of automotive manufacturers are integrating lidar into the headlamps of their autonomous vehicle designs. Currently, this use of lidar in headlamps is helping to advance the design and functionality of autonomous vehicles because of the advantages this application provides, including:

Additional Automotive Lidar Resources:

Easy integration with a simplified vehicle input structure. The use of lidar in headlamps allows autonomous car manufacturers to reduce the number of cameras in their vehicles. Currently, most autonomous vehicles’ data input networks cannot handle multiple cameras feeding them data simultaneously but they can easily use the information acquired from the lidar system embedded in headlamps.

High-speed and accurate sensing. The lidar sensors in the headlamps of an autonomous vehicle, use laser pulses to capture precise, three-dimensional information at millions of pulses per second. This highly accurate data is then fed back to the car’s neural network allowing the vehicle to react faster than a human driver.

A more streamlined design aesthetic. Housing the lidar sensors in the headlamps, which can easily accommodate the technology from a space standpoint, eliminates the need to have multiple sensors incorporated throughout the car’s exterior design which improves the overall look of the car and increases its appeal to the consumer market.

Incorporating lidar into headlamps and rear lights increases the vehicle’s viewing range. By having lidar-equipped headlamps and rear lights on a vehicle there is no longer a need to have a sensor on the roof of a vehicle that can introduce blind spots due to the car itself blocking the field of view in certain directions. Having the lidar sensors upfront and in the back allow for detection at both short and long ranges.

Clearly, the benefits of using lidar in headlamps to improve the functionality and aesthetics of autonomous vehicles is helping automotive manufacturers propel their autonomous vehicle designs forward. As lidar technologies continue to evolve for all-condition driving and greater cost-efficiencies are realized, it is reasonable to expect that headlamps with built-in lidar will become an industry-standard component of self-driving vehicles.

Interested in learning more? The Ultra-short Pulse NIR and SWIR Laser Diode Illuminators for Automotive Lidar webinar provides a comprehensive overview of manufacturing capabilities, system integration, and cost demands.

Download the webinar recording!