Read on if you’re curious how else you can use Lidar, love seeing regulations getting updated, and think charging stations need a little something extra.

Lidar: More Than Autonomous Vehicle Navigation
Lidar, light-sensing technology, may be well-known for its role in guiding autonomous vehicles, but this technology is increasingly serving other purposes: The FIA is using Lidar to test racecar designs and modifications, making sure they are within approved limits. Lidar will be used to perform random scans during race weekends to verify that all teams follow the rules. Lidar plays important roles in law enforcement. Police offers use the technology to enforce speed limits, and it can also be used to support blood splatter analysis. Lidar can even allow law enforcement to create 3D recordings of crime scenes and accident scenes. Lidar sensors can monitor traffic congestion, identifying problems on routes and establishing alternative routes. This capability not only makes for more efficient transportation but can also help to reduce emissions. Lidar even plays a key role in road design and planning. The Lidar data can help to accurately map out road routes, identifying safe and appropriate locations in areas with risky elements like significant hills or areas where the earth may be unstable. Although Lidar sensors are a key element of autonomous vehicles, they’re affecting the automotive industry in many other ways, too. As this technology continues to advance, chances are we’ll see the use of Lidar expand even more in the coming years.

Key Automotive Regulation Updates
As the automotive industry evolves and advances, existing regulations may become restrictive or sometimes don’t address the emerging concerns that result from new technology and automotive use. Recent regulation updates have paved the way for the modern-day automotive industry’s operation.

In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) finalized a regulation that implements the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. The provision allows replica car businesses to manufacture and sell classic-themed replica cars that are in-demand by consumers. Previous regulations prohibited the production of heritage cars.

Under the new regulation, manufacturers can create up to 325 replica cars per year. Manufacturers will need to register with the NHTSA, EPA, and CARB before they can sell vehicles, but this new option could mean a valuable revenue stream for small vehicle manufacturers.

The NHTSA also issued a final ruling in February that allows vehicle manufacturers to install adaptive driving beam headlights on the vehicles that they produce. These headlight systems automatically shine less light on areas of the road that are occupied, while directing more light to unoccupied areas. The lighting system can more effectively illuminate pedestrians, objects, and animals without affecting the vision of other drivers. The result is a safer roadway, particularly at night.

Autonomous vehicles are rapidly changing the automotive industry, and we’re likely to see additional regulations and legislation designed to address the unique demands and questions raised by autonomous vehicles. Issues like data collection and data privacy, required safety elements, liability in the case of an accident, insurance regulations, and more will all need to be addressed as autonomous vehicles increasingly take to the streets.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations of the Future
As electric vehicle usage increases over the next decade, our electric infrastructure needs to expand to support that increased demand. That expansion will need to include the creation of public charging stations, which begs the question: What will the electric vehicle charging stations of the future look like?

Today’s charging stations are sporadically located at grocery stores, malls, and other high-traffic public spaces. With increased electric vehicle usage, chances are that we’ll see these public chargers in more locations, from hotels to smaller stores to restaurants and more. Currently, charging stations are somewhat rare, but with time, they’ll become the norm and a standard element of many businesses.

Charging Speed
Increasing charging speed will add versatility to these charging stations, meaning they’ll be a more practical choice for locations where people spend less time. Since most chargers are Level 2 units, fully charging a car takes three to eight hours. It makes the most sense to locate these units in places where drivers spend long periods of time, like a mall or grocery store.

Level 3 chargers are capable of charging passenger vehicles much more quickly, often within about 15 minutes. Driver demand for fast and convenient charging means that we will likely see more of these Level 3 chargers made publicly available. Given their faster speed, these chargers could be installed in areas where drivers spend shorter periods of time, including gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants.

Thinking Big
If the United States continues to widely embrace and utilize electric vehicles, charging stations are likely to evolve into more user-friendly, comfortable, and welcoming spaces. We might see covered stations, stations with valet service, stations with additional amenities like bathrooms or dining facilities, and more.

Chances are we will see modern, aesthetically pleasing designs that include large structures with a community-like feel. Entertainment and socialization will likely be major themes, giving drivers and passengers a chance to engage with others and relax as their vehicles charge. These charging stations will also pose valuable income-generating opportunities for businesses like cafes and restaurants. It will be interesting to see which businesses pair with these stations as they expand throughout the country.