Interesting article. This bit also stood out to me...
Worse still for Tesla is the growing number of experts calling out its approach to autonomy as fundamentally flawed due to a lack of LIDAR. As we have discussed previously, regulations will almost certainly mandate the use of LIDAR in the event of the legalization of autonomous vehicles. Tesla, which has eschewed that technology, could well find its technology made wholly obsolete before it even has a viable product.
I'd fully agree with that. I cannot see any regulator allowing self driving cars with cameras only. Even though in theory, computer vision (deep learning CNNs) can outperform humans at recognition tasks - and that's what's needed to identify roads, signs, people, cyclists, other vehicles and so on - I believe there is an expectation from the general public that autonomous cars will be a step up in safety compared to human drivers.
And certainly while the technology is still finding its feet, it seems pretty much a given that regulators are going to demand the kind of backup / redundancy from lidar, etc, complementing vision, particularly when such technologies already exist, are not massively expensive and have been proven to add value by others.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe of the few fatalities so far in cars with either auto pilot, or fully autonomous, all were cars which didn't have lidar (or similar) to backup their cameras.
Lidar can't identify what an object is - that's why cameras with deep learning CNNs are the primary 'engine' of autonomous driving, but lidar can tell you if you are on course to hit a solid (but unidentified) object that the cameras didn't spot. Either a pedestrian walking their bike across the highway, or a lorry in an adjacent lane you're about to pull into, or a safety barrier you're about to collide with, etc.
With the cost of lidar so relatively cheap, and the clear additional safety benefits it provides, I wouldn't want to be sharing the road with autonomous cars that didn't have it. And with all the fear of the unknown / suspicion around self driving cars, I think the regulators are going to take a similar view.