You worry about dripping Lotus Type 132 teasers when they go from some front grille to something forgettable like a sensor, but the latest 15-second “See” video (after “Breathe”) is obviously pointing to something a little more meaningful than another piece of fictional technology. Or at least we assume it is.
A Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor is, after all, touted as one of the core components of a new generation of self-driving cars. The concept of using lasers to determine distances to an object has been around for decades, but the technology required to do so thousands of times per second and then build a 3D map from the resulting point cloud is a more recent application, especially with pinpoint accuracy to 70 miles per hour.
While a common view on autonomous vehicle prototypes, the sensor’s broader application has generally been limited by the scale, cost and complexity of the systems involved. Elon Musk famously described LiDAR as a “fool’s errand” in 2019 and suggested that a mix of cameras and radar was better suited to the task. However, the profitability of laser-based technology has since increased thanks to increased investment, not least by Volvo, Lotus’ stable partner in the Geely portfolio.
Volvo is an investment partner in Luminar, a US-based startup that is said to have already developed a LiDAR system that can detect objects 250 meters away and in unprecedented detail. “Our technology enables the detection of human shapes and their actions, which has never been possible before for LiDAR on vehicles,” noted Austin Russell, the company’s CEO.
Ensuring autonomous cars accurately perceive objects is obviously of paramount importance when operating in the real world, even if it is the software behind the sensors – that is, the one in charge of actually controlling the vehicle – that is proving devilishly difficult to program given all. the variables you might encounter on the highway.
The inclusion of LiDAR in the Type 132 is therefore highly unlikely to indicate full range, although Lotus’s indication that “it is the eyes of the car that will support Lotus’ pioneering intelligent driving technologies on its new generation of electric vehicles” , suggests that the sensor will be an integral part of the experience. While its use is limited to improving safety, its appearance at this early stage is obviously meant to show that Hethel holds nothing back when it comes to its revolutionary electric SUV.
Case in point: A third teaser titled “Stretch” showing “active rear aerodynamics on the Tipo 132 coming to life”. Here, of course, Lotus is on more familiar ground – its rich motorsport heritage means it is among the earliest pioneers of aerodynamic innovation and has been responsible for using an era of ground effect in Formula 1 with breakthroughs. techniques made by the championship winning Lotus 78 and Lotus 79.
More recently he highlighted the ‘porous’ nature of the 2,000hp Evija hypercar. And while the new model probably won’t be revealed with a dramatic three-part front splitter or Venturi tunnel in its rear quarters, the deployable rear spoiler is clearly another part of Lotus’s kitchen sink approach to SUV construction.