Automotive Lidar – Are We There Yet?

The use of automotive lidar for autonomous vehicle navigation requires not only the innovative application of technology, but in the final analysis a business plan that reflects the realities of supplying components to the automotive industry.

Photo of Jan-Erik Källhammer discussing automotive lidar

Jan-Erik Källhammer

Jan-Erik Källhammer is the Director of Visual Enhancement and Cognitive Systems at the $2 billion(USD) automotive-electronics supplier Veoneer Inc. 

I assume most people are not aware of Veoneer and perhaps the company likes it that way, but Veoneer has supplied products that are present in 175 car models. They have delivered approximately 4 million camera sensors, 30 million radar sensors and 750 million airbag electronic control units (ECUs) and crash sensors. Veoneer knows how to play the game.

Jan-Erik recently provided his thoughts in a speech in Washington, D.C. on a number of the challenges associated with the use of lidar sensors to support the navigation of autonomous vehicles. He was not pessimistic, but he has years of experience with introducing new technology into the automotive industry and understands the technical and business challenges which must both be overcome.

Here are just some of them:

  1. Initial cost is too high
  2. New technologies that auto industry is not familiar with
  3. Need to bring new components to industrial scale quickly
  4. Timing of use is not known

The one challenge that is the most daunting is the fact that the first year of lidar production will need to be greater than the total lidar sensors produced to date.

Jan-Erik likened the introduction of automotive lidar to the introduction of night vision technology, a scenario that he had a lot of experience with. There were many unexpected non-core issues such as the need to install the unit in a minute or less to meet the assembly-line timescales. In addition there are issues with ambient temperature, vibration and export rules, to name a few.

On the business front Jan-Erik wonders if it will make more sense for the lidar company to license their IP to a more skilled manufacturer, or at least partner with a tier 1 supplier who knows what it takes to scale.

Bottom line – no we are not there yet.

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This entry was posted in artifical perception, artificial intelligence, Autonomous vehicles, Business Development, computer vision, Consumer, Hardware, Mapping, Research, Sensors, solid state lidar, The Industry and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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