Car parts giant Continental says it is making a minority investment in lidar sensor developer AEye, with plans to industrialize the technology for autonomous driving in both passenger cars and much larger commercial vehicles.
From an article in Optics.
While Continental already has long-standing lidar expertise in-house, and owns a stake in Munich lidar developer Blickfeld via its venture capital unit, the company says that the AEye approach – based around 1550 nm lasers and a MEMS scanner – offers additional benefits, particularly in terms of range.
“The AEye lidar offers maximum leverage for passenger and commercial vehicle applications because it combines a high dynamic spatial resolution with a long-range detection,” added the Michigan-headquartered firm.
“Vehicles can be detected at a distance of more than 300 meters and pedestrians at a distance of more than 200 meters. AEye’s ability to detect small, low-reflectiv[ity] objects, such as bricks, at a distance of 160 meters with multiple measuring points is pivotal for automated driving in both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.”
Short-range auto lidar incoming
While that long-range technology is not slated for series production until 2024, Continental stated that the partnership with AEye would complement its existing short-range pulsed lidar technology, which is set to go into production before the end of this year for deployment in high-end vehicles.
“This start of production of the high-resolution 3D Flash lidar (HFL) is a key milestone,” claimed the firm. “It is the first high-resolution solid-state lidar sensor to go into series production in the automotive market worldwide.”
Frank Petznick, who heads up Continental’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) business unit, added: “We now have optimum short-range and world-class long-range lidar technologies with their complementary set of benefits under one roof.
“This puts us in a strong position to cover the full vehicle environment with state-of-the-art lidar sensor technology and to facilitate automated driving at SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) levels 3 or higher in both passenger cars and commercial vehicle applications.”
Vehicles capable of “level 3” or higher automation rely on a combination of camera, radar, and lidar sensors to detect objects and their trajectories around the vehicle.
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