It's not just about appearances. It's about cost, drag, and power consumption. Lidar is a pain on all three of those (in addition to looks). You simply can't sell cars with big $10k domes bulging out of the top upping your drag coefficient by 10-20% and consuming a couple kilowatts of power. That would be a disaster to your range, and make your vehicle totally uncompetitive.
"More than one year after launching V2, Autopilot still lacks some of the functionality of the original, and there are many anecdotal reports from owners of unpredictable behavior."
Funny how you don't get anecdotal reports concerning the others, given that most of them don't have owners to make said anecdotal reports. And of most of the competitors' systems, they're comically bad. And they have the gall to actually market the car as currently "self-driving" (unlike Tesla which markets self-driving as an additional package which you can buy but won't be active for years).
Some of my favorite quotes from the test drive comparison:
One never really decides to engage Drive Pilot. You press two buttons on the left side of the dash, one for Distronic Cruise Control, the other for Automatic Steering, then press a button on the left side of the steering wheel, then, — when Drive Pilot decides conditions are suitable — it engages.
Is there an audible sound? None that I heard. Like Autopilot, a green steering wheel icon illuminates on the bottom center of the display, and is duplicated in the Heads-Up Display.
Engagement is made clear by the car’s instant and unsafe wandering in all but perfect conditions, and often in perfect conditions.
Unlike with Autopilot, placing your hands on the wheel and steering doesn’t instantly disengage Drive Pilot. I suppose this is intended as a method of allowing the user to guide Drive Pilot by making course corrections, but instead it resulted in an unwanted and stressful upper arm workout, without which I’d have been killed.
I got the Drive Pilot to “drive” itself for as long as sixty seconds, which is as along as Mercedes-Benz deems it safe. Trust me, you don’t want to take your hands off the wheel that long unless your car’s on fire and you’re reaching for a fire extinguisher, and even then.
Drive Pilot had a nasty habit of disengaging in good conditions before sixty seconds were up, with no obvious warning except the green steering icon going out, and lane drift. After the third time, I actually felt fear.
This is actually a dangerous product. The car will steer itself into oncoming traffic. It oscillates between lane markings like a drunk driver. No setting or speed is sufficient to compensate for the utter failure of this functionality.
Did anyone in Stuttgart drive a Tesla on Autopilot? Even once?
People need to be fired. Think I’m being harsh? Here’s another direct comparison between Drive Pilot and Autopilot, from Norway’s Autofil. Scroll down to the pictures comparing the two cars' lane keeping. Need more convincing? Here's Wired's take. Still don't believe me? Video is coming soon, via Drive on NBC Sports.
The only good thing about Drive Pilot is that your Mercedes will protect you from it. Did I trust it? Only at a crawl. Did I understand it? I don’t understand how Mercedes-Benz could release this to the public. I hated literally everything about it. It drove like a drunk ten year old, fighting for the wheel with a drunk fourteen year old.
They've "improved" it since that article, but their main improvement has been a massive cheat: in practice it spends most of its time locked onto whatever car is in front of you, doing whatever they do - including unwanted lane changes, driving like an idiot, etc. Autopilot certainly incorporates the behavior of the vehicle ahead of you into its datastream, but it doesn't simply mimick their behavior.
Some on the market products offer a better autopilot experience by a different cheat: premapping. They drive a Lidar truck down the roads and map the geometry everywhere on that route. So your car stays nice and perfectly centred in your lane and does the curves just perfectly. Assuming that you're on a road they've mapped, otherwise it doesn't work at all. Assuming that the road hasn't changed and that there's nothing the TACC radar can't see in the road, or it'll happily plow you straight into disaster. Assuming that your GPS doesn't glitch out, or.. same thing.
Then you have the "talk a good game but no actual product on the market" companies like Google's Waymo. They have a great safety record!.... in the precise conditions that they've chosen to test the vehicle. Using hardware that is in no way commercially practical to put on consumer vehicles. Etc.
Tesla has taken on the hardest of problems: a real-time (not pre-mapped), commercially viable (not super-expensive, ugly, high drag, power-sucking), massively deployed in the real-world Autopilot system. And yes, they absolutely have had setbacks - the harsh divorve with Mobileye made them switch over to AP 2.0 before it was ready, and they've spent the last year playing catch-up with themselves, only recently starting to exceed where they were in AP 1.0. And yes, the gap with at least some of their competitors is closing. But as for the claims in this report, they're just laughable.
Honestly, I don't think the future is traditional LIDAR. Rather, I think it's time-of-flight cameras. They should be able to be mass produced for a similar cost to visual cameras, with a similar profile, and provide both ranging data as well as the unavoidably-necessary visual data for optical processing. For those currently with visual/radar systems for ranging, time-of-flight ranging data should be a direct drop-in for photogrammetric ranging, which is more prone to stitching errors (photogrammetry avoids stitching errors with our eyes only because our brains reason out what "makes sense"; what "makes sense" is an AI-hard problem)