Musk has said that lidar is unnecessary for the goal of full autonomy in any and all conditions (SAE Level 5). That position is extremely controversial, bucking the conventional wisdom which holds that lidar provides critical sensor diversity and redundancy in complex domains like urban settings.
Nissan’s position, that lidar is unnecessary for the limited-domain highway automation in vehicles available for sale today, is far less controversial than Musk’s.
Nissan’s avoided any reference to the SAE automation levels when describing its ProPILOT 2.0, which could be described as either Level 2 or Level 3. Such limited systems, which require some level of “human in the loop” driver awareness or engagement for safe performance are fundamentally different than a Level 4 or Level 5 fully autonomous system that requires no human driver awareness or engagement and can be used in less limited domains than a highway-only Level 2 or Level 3 system. This difference in domain and the need for human driver awareness or engagement is central to the debate about the sensors necessary in a given automated driving system, and by collapsing this important distinction media outlets have done a disservice to their readers.