A U.S. congressional committee, led by Representative Mike Gallagher, has raised concerns about the potential national security risks posed by Chinese-made Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) devices, according to a recent report in The Register. The committee has requested an investigation into Chinese LiDAR manufacturers and the possibility of imposing sanctions on these entities.

LiDAR technology, crucial in autonomous systems and robotics, is currently not subject to U.S. export controls or government procurement restrictions. This oversight has raised alarms in the U.S. Congress, particularly regarding the use of U.S. technology in foreign LiDAR systems. The committee fears that adversaries could exploit this technology to develop autonomous military vehicles and weapons.

The lawmakers have expressed concerns about the possibility of Beijing accessing data from LiDAR manufacturers, potentially compromising U.S. mapping, infrastructure, and even military systems. Additionally, there are fears that Chinese LiDAR-makers could introduce malware that degrades the performance of U.S. systems.

The committee highlighted that U.S. defense systems and platforms might already integrate Chinese-made LiDAR technology, suggesting that fully mitigating the risks could be too late.

Furthermore, the committee has linked LiDAR technology to human rights abuses in China, particularly in the surveillance of the Uyghur population. This association adds another layer of concern to the use of Chinese LiDAR technology.

The broader context of technological tensions

LiDAR technology is increasingly used in autonomous vehicles, a sector where China is rapidly advancing. The concerns raised by the U.S. are part of a broader narrative of technological tensions between the two countries. Chinese state-sponsored media has dismissed these concerns as an attempt to contain China’s technological rise.

Similar security arguments have been made against other Chinese tech entities like Huawei, drone-maker DJI, and Hikvision. These concerns have led to significant actions, including the removal of Huawei equipment from the U.K.’s 5G network, which caused disruptions and financial implications.

The U.S.’s scrutiny of Chinese tech, particularly LiDAR devices, highlights complex global tech dynamics. The investigation’s outcome could significantly impact Chinese tech use in key sectors and the U.S.-China tech rivalry.

Maxwell Nelson

Freelance Journalist

Maxwell Nelson, a seasoned crypto journalist and content strategist, has notably contributed to industry-leading platforms such as Cointelegraph, OKX Insights, and Decrypt, weaving complex crypto narratives into insightful articles that resonate with a broad readership.