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Auto supplier wants to make LiDAR cheaper for automakers

Infineon's acquisition could lead to ubiquitous self-driving vehicles.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Infineon announced on Monday that it is buying Innoluce BV, a Dutch company that manufactures teensy LiDAR modules, in hopes of using the technology to bring self-driving car technology into the mainstream. "We intend to make lidar an affordable feature for every new-built car worldwide," Peter Schiefer, the head of Infineon's automotive division, said in a statement.

LiDAR, which works like RADAR except with laser light, is essential for autonomous cars as it enables the vehicles to accurately gauge their distance from surrounding obstacles. The problem is that, until recently, LiDAR units were insanely expensive to produce en masse. The LiDAR units installed on the first generation of Google's self-driving cars cost around $75,000. Thankfully, they're only about a tenth of that price today and Infineon's deal is expected to drive that price even lower -- down to a few hundred bucks each.