As autonomous vehicles (AV) become increasingly attractive, one technology that is playing a crucial role in their development is lidar. Lidar, short for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses lasers to measure distances and create detailed 3D maps of the environment. The AV applications for lidar market is expected to grow to US$8.4 billion by 2033, driven by the increasing adoption of AVs and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as predicted by IDTechEx in their report “Lidar 2023-2033: Technologies, Players, Markets & Forecasts.” This report provides research on lidar, from technology, business, and market, to players.
From IDTechEx Ltd. by Dr. Xiaoxi He.
Various sensors are essential to enable ADAS and AV systems, including cameras, radars, ultrasonic systems, etc. Cameras offer color and high-definition images but suffer from poor depth information and can be easily affected by the sun and other poor weather conditions. Ultrasonic systems are very cheap but have a very short detection range. Radars are quite robust to bad weather conditions but give very poor resolution. The typical 2-3° angular resolution (e.g., 2° at 100m cannot distinguish a distance larger than 3.4m) of a radar makes most object detection challenging.
On the other hand, Lidar can compensate for the disadvantages of other sensors, “seeing” in the dark, providing high resolution (e.g., 0.1°) and information not easily affected by the light condition. Unlike ultrasonic sensors, lidar sensors can detect objects at longer distances and in a wider field of view. Lidar systems emit their own light, making them less susceptible to interference from external sources such as sunlight, fog, or rain.
Although existing sensors can handle most issues on the road, lidar provides an additional layer of safety by acting as a backup to other sensors, such as cameras and radar. In situations where other sensors may be compromised or fail, lidar can still provide accurate and reliable data about the environment, allowing the autonomous system to make informed decisions and avoid potential hazards. The requirements of safety redundancy make lidar an important consideration by various Tier 1 companies and OEMs.
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