Want A Fully Autonomous Car? Pick Any Color You Like, As Long As It’s Light

In a future where self-driving cars will rely entirely on their sensors and cameras, it seems that light-colored cars may hold the upper hand.

With sensors such as the laser light-mapping system (LiDAR), light-colored vehicles can be detected more easily than dark ones, reports USA Today.

“When we test colors… we know that highly reflective colors are more easily detectable by LiDAR systems,” stated Nancy Lockhart, marketing exec for automotive paint supplier Axalta Coating Systems.

Thankfully, this doesn’t mean that dark-colored cars will be history since there are systems that can obviously detect them. However, in order to do that properly, a car needs extra sensors. So in the early years of fully-autonomous driving, it’s possible that automakers will favor light colors over more intricate ones.

Axalta is currently experimenting with inserting flakes into dark-colored paints in order to make them more reflective.

“Color sells,” added Lockhart. “I don’t think we’re going to come into this world blanketed by plain-Jane colors.”

Another paint company, PPG Industries, is working with technologies used for high-tech coatings on airplane fuselages. According to PPG chief technical officer David Bem, the company is hoping to make black 20% to 30% more reflective by going beyond the visible color spectrum.

“People buy cars based on how they look,” added Bem, acknowledging that preserving dark-colored vehicles is critical despite the fact that light-colored cars could reduce autonomous tech costs since they would require fewer sensors.

Aside from taking color into account, paint companies also need to adapt their products to help self-driving cars avoid dirt buildup since it’s important that a car’s sensors remain clutter-free so that they don’t give out any false signals.

It seems like there are still some issues the automotive industry has to resolve before they actually deliver the fully-autonomous cars that are supposed to be all the rage. However, no matter what marketing people might say, the self-driving car still has some way to go before it hits our driveway.

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  • Status

    This will not make the president of Turkmenistan very happy when he hears this.

    • LWOAP

      That guy has a few screws loose.

      • Stephen G

        There is a guy in the US just like that!

  • Moveon Libtards


    In early February, Tesla announced that reservers waiting patiently for their base Model 3 sedan won’t receive their car until 2019, which represents a full-year delay. Now, they’re beginning to defect to the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Reuters reported last Friday.

    Would-be owners have posted online detailing their frustration with the Model 3 delay and many are afraid they won’t receive their cars before the federal tax credit of $7,500 is depleted.

    Chevrolet dealer Yev Kaplinskiy said his dealership in San Francisco sold 15 Bolt EVs in one weekend following the Tesla announcement.

    The brand also fired off a direct email to prospective customers following the Model 3 delay, which simply read: “Bolt EV: Now Available.”

    Chevrolet sold 23,297 Bolt EVs in 2017. In comparison, Tesla assembled and delivered only 2,400 Model 3s in the fourth quarter of 2017. It built just 260 Model 3s in Q3 of 2017.

    General Motors has two new electric cars less than 13 months away, and one will likely arrive as a more upscale alternative to the Bolt EV for the Buick brand.

  • Marty

    It’s just that the problem isn’t the color of your car, but the color of other peoples cars.

  • gary4205

    So much money wasted on a technology no one wants or needs. A technology that won’t work in the snow, won’t work on poorly maintained and marked roads.

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