AEye, Continental jointly develop long-range lidar
AEye (Dublin, Calif), has developed a long-range lidar technology that combines a 1550-nm laser with adjustable power with a patented, controlled micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) as a scanner. This technology can be configured via software and thus optimised for almost any vehicle model and application. AEye’s lidar is said to be ideal for passenger and commercial vehicle applications due to its high dynamic spatial resolution with long range: it will detect vehicles at a distance of over 300 metres as well as pedestrians at a distance of over 200 metres. In addition, small, weakly reflective objects, such as bricks or even overhead wires, are detected with several measuring points even at a distance of 160 metres. For Automated Driving, this capability is considered a core requirement. Continental will industrialise this technology according to the requirements of the automotive industry and bring it to market under the type designation HRL131. The first series production is scheduled for the end of 2024.
With this sensor, lidar technology continues to keep the increasingly competitive radar technology in the field of environment sensor technology for autonomous vehicles at a safe distance. Recently, NXP had given the impression that radar could catch up with lidar in terms of resolution and performance in the medium term with the presentation of a new generation of its radar sensors: NXP’s new radar sensors are said to offer near-visual resolution. “Certain functions are left to lidar,” explains Jordan Greene, founder and vice president strategy at AEye. “Radar is sufficient for levels 2 / 2+ of autonomous driving, but at the higher levels lidar remains essential.” Lidar sensors remain more expensive than their radar competitors, but Greene expects a similar trend to radar sensors in terms of the price curve.
The HRL131 uses a 1550-nm laser combined with a MEMS scanner whose micromirrors can deflect up to 12,000 times per second. The laser generates up to 10 high-resolution images per second and captures its environment in a wide-angle format of 128 x 28 degrees. The sensor can be optimised by software for a variety of different applications. It is therefore suitable for use in cars as well as in autonomous trucks, explained Gunnar Jürgens, head of Continental’s lidar business.
The collaboration with AEye complements Continental’s existing short-range 3D Flash lidar technology in the form of the HFL110 sensor. This will go into series production worldwide in premium vehicles of a well-known vehicle manufacturer as part of the system for highly automated driving as early as the end of this year. Continental sees this type of sensor as a turning point: it will be the first high-resolution lidar sensor without moving components in the world to go into series production in the automotive industry.
More information: https://www.aeye.ai