The sensors which the article you linked are referring to are LIDARs. A LIDAR is a laser used in conjunction with an optical scanning system. By using sophisticated software and a LIDAR it is possible to do what is called "scene generation" which means creating a 3D model of the terrain (and objects) in front of the car.
LIDARS ranges are only limited by the power of the laser and resolution of the scanner. In theory you could map the surface of the moon with a LIDAR if you had a powerful enough laser. A scene generation system with a range of 200 yards ("two football fields") is feasible and many such systems exist.
Such systems are not commonly used, even in autonomous systems like UAVs, for several reasons: they are expensive, fragile, and suffer from motion effects. For example, for aerial UAVs one of the big problems is what is called "canyoning". As the vehicle traverses an area the parts of the scene to the forward right and left change very rapidly due to angular effects. This makes it very hard to compute the scene fast enough, except for things that are right in front of you.
The main use of 3D LIDARs today is to scan stationary objects like buildings and vehicles so they can be easily entered into a computer system as 3D models.