Defense spending measure would bar Chinese lidar in U.S. military systems

FILE PHOTO: House Republican press conference

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) - A U.S. defense spending bill advanced by the House of Representatives this week contains a measure that would bar the use of Chinese-made lidar sensors in U.S. military systems.

The measure, introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, would block the U.S. Defense Department from buying or using the Chinese-made version of the technology, which is a type of light sensor that is widely used in both autonomous vehicles and drones to help the machines gain a three-dimensional view of the world around them.

“As the U.S. military increases its use of autonomous unmanned systems, my amendment sends a clear signal that the U.S. cannot rely on untrusted lidar that jeopardizes our national security and undermines the competitiveness of American companies," Stefanik said in a statement.

If passed into law, the measure would add to growing U.S. unease with Chinese-made lidar sensors. In January, the Defense Department added China's Hesai Group, one of the biggest makers of lidar systems, to a list of companies with alleged ties to Beijing's military.

Hesai has sued the Defense Department, arguing that the Chinese military does not exert any influence or control over the group and alleging that the designation harmed its reputation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Reuters last year his agency has national security concerns about such technologies and that there was a need to better understand "the true ownership of the different enterprises that are supplying different elements of our transportation systems."

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Sharon Singleton)