Continental acquires stake in lidar expert AEye
Besides camera and radar, lidar sensors are generally considered to be among the key technologies for automated driving. Although Continental claims to have more than 20 years of experience in this field and already has several products on the market, there has been a gap in the product portfolio for long-range sensors.
AEye has developed a long-range lidar technology that combines a 1550 nm laser with adjustable power with a patented, software-controlled MEMS as a scanner. This technology can also be configured via software and can therefore be optimised for almost any vehicle model and application. According to Continental, AEye’s lidar is ideally suited for applications in passenger and commercial vehicles due to its long range and high dynamic spatial resolution. The system detects vehicles at a distance of over 300 metres and pedestrians at a distance of over 200 metres. In addition, even small, weakly reflective objects such as bricks can be detected at a distance of 160 metres with several measuring points, which is a fundamental requirement for automated driving in both cars and trucks. Continental will industrialise this lidar technology according to the requirements of the automotive industry. Series production is scheduled to start at the end of 2024.
Through the cooperation with AEye, Continental complements its existing close-range 3D Flash Lidar technology. It will be used worldwide in premium vehicles of a well-known vehicle manufacturer as part of the system for highly automated driving at the end of this year. The 3D Flash Lidar (HFL) is a turning point: it is the first high-resolution lidar sensor without moving components worldwide to go into series production in the automotive industry.
“We now have the optimal short-range and world-class long-range lidar technology under one roof. This puts us in an excellent position to cover the entire vehicle environment with state-of-the-art lidar sensor technology, enabling us to implement automated driving at SAE Level 3 or higher in both passenger car and truck applications,” comments Frank Petznick, head of the Driver Assistance Systems business unit at Continental.
Vehicles with automation at SAE Level 3 or higher require sensor equipment that includes camera, radar and lidar to detect objects and usable trajectories around the vehicle. The advantage of the lidar sensor is reliable 3D pixel detection with high resolution. Continental uses tailor-made automotive lidar technology for both short and long range applications. At close range, the 3D Flash Lidar technology delivers 3D pixel images very quickly and precisely because it illuminates the entire scene with the laser pulse at once and captures it completely in one frame (Global Shutter technology). For reliable detection of objects at long distances, the newly acquired agile 1550 nm lidar technology offers a proven combination of software-configurable HD resolution with over 1600 pixels per angular quadrant and detection ranges beyond 300 metres. Continental expects AEye’s MEMS-based lidar technology to provide high reliability and best sensor performance even in difficult weather and road conditions.
The advantages of this technology are particularly evident in commercial vehicles with their high mass and long stopping distances, Continental explained.
For the company, automated driving is an essential component of future mobility. Automated driving will significantly change people’s mobility – on the motorway, in the city and when parking. In 2012, Continental was the first automotive supplier worldwide to receive a license for highly automated test drives on public roads in the US state of Nevada. In a global development network focusing on Japan, China, USA, India and Europe, Continental develops sensors, control units, braking systems, software, networking solutions, driving functions and information and operating systems for automated driving. The aim is seamless, efficient, sustainable and comfortable mobility without accidents.
More information: www.continental.com