3D LiDAR Delivers Automotive Solutions

One of the hot technologies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show is 3D LiDAR, which will be critical to the success of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.

Automotive technology continues to be a hot topic at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 3D LiDAR is prominent, as it is a key sensor component for advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) and self-driving cars.

Two things are driving improvements in 3D LiDAR. The first is improved emitters, since LiDAR provides its own light source. One of the companies delivering arrays is Trilumina. Its 940 nm vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) illumination module (Fig. 1) is the basis for a number of 3D LiDAR systems.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Trilumina’s 940 nm vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) illumination module is the basis for a number of 3D LiDAR systems.

Trilumina’s VCSEL array uses microlenses to produces a combined, low-divergence output beam that has little or no speckle noise (Fig. 2). The array has a far-field divergence angle of less that 15 deg. The approach does so without costly external optics. The VCSEL array is compact and multiple dies can be connected together to form larger arrays. The compact size is partly due to the use of flip-chip, back-emitting VCSELs.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Trilumina’s vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) array uses microlenses to produces a combined, low-divergence output beam that has little or no speckle noise.

One place Trilumina’s array is found is in LeddarTech’s 3D LiDAR solution (Fig. 3). The illuminator is combined with LeddarTech’s LCA2 3D Flash LiDAR modules. The LCA2 chip generates 245,000 waveforms/s and processes nearly 1.3 billion samples/s to generate the range data needed for ADAS applications. LeddarTech is also showing its LCA3 prototype at CES. The company is targeting a device with a 350-meter range and a resolution as low as 0.01 deg. with its LCA3 technology.

Figure 3

Figure 3: LeddarTech’s 3D LiDAR combines its LCA2 LiDAR sensor with Trilumina’s VCSEL illuminator.

Velodyne’s Velarray (Fig. 4) uses Velodyne’s proprietary ASICs to deliver a compact, 3D LiDAR system that is 125 mm by 50 mm by 55 mm. It can be embedded into the front, sides, and corners of vehicles to generate a 360-deg. view. Each unit provides up to a 120­deg. horizontal and 35­deg. vertical field­of­view. It has a 200­meter range and can even detect low­reflectivity objects. It is designed to meet an automotive integrity safety level rating of ASIL-B.

Figure 4

Figure 4: Velodyne’s Velarray is a small-form-factor, 3D LiDAR system.

Innoviz’s InnovizPro 3D LiDAR (Fig. 5) is designed to deliver information at 20 frames/s with angular resolution of 0.15 by 0.3 deg. and a field of view of 73 by 20 deg. 

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