Will vision based system eventually prevail rangefinders based systems given that the most successful autonomous agents in the world like animals use primarily visions to navigate?
Animals and robots both need to understand something about the 3D structure of the world in order to thrive. Because it's so important, animals have evolved a huge number of strategies to estimate depth based on camera-like projective sensors (eyes). Many make use of binocular disparity -- the fact that the distance between the same scene point in two different views is inversely proportional to depth. A mantis moves its head sideways to do this, a dragonfly makes very precise forward motion, birds move their heads forward and backwards, we use the fact that our eyes are widely spaced on our heads and have overlapping fields of view. Stereo vision is a computer vision technique that mimics this.
However disparity is not the only trick we use, there are lots of others including proprioceptive signals from the muscles in our eyes (focus and vergence), observing how things in the world move as we move (optical flow), our knowledge about the world (the tree looks small, we know trees are big, therefore it must be far away), haziness, texture density, occlusion (thing A blocks thing B, therefore A must be closer). Each technique (or cue) is imperfect, but mostly in a different way, and each operates across a different range of distances. Our brain stitches (fuses) all that together to give a result that is mostly pretty robust.
Checkout the wikipedia page for more details. I like this (old) article
How the eye measures reality and virtual reality. JAMES E. CUTTING, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 1997, 29 (1), 27-36
which gives a good insight into this issue.
There are now deep-learnt networks now that can take a monocular (single) image and output estimated depth. We can never know for sure but my theory is that they are encoding some of the cues that we use for depth estimation such as texture and apparent size.
Vision is actually one kind of rangefinder, although passive. Earlier camera use parallax to find the distance and focus.
Nowadays, active rangefinders are developed such as ultrasonic sensors, lidar sensors, which emit a signal and checks the returned time, the time of flight. This is more accurate and could adapt to low light conditions.