Californian startup boosts LiDAR' specs with proprietary InGaAs design: Page 3 of 3

May 30, 2017 //By Julien Happich
Californian startup boosts LiDAR' specs with proprietary InGaAs design
Headquartered in Portola Valley, California, startup Luminar Technologies, Inc. has come out of stealth after five years of secretive research and development exclusively focused on LiDAR technology, betting on InGaAs for its key components.

Coming back to the pilot run starting Q4, Eichenholz claims it will be the largest product run to date as far as LiDARs are concerned. The company will ramp up production with additional capabilities.

"Once thing that is holding back the scaling of autonomous fleets is the availability of LiDARs. Luminar Technologies will be a catalyst for the growth of the autonomous vehicle industry" says the CTO.

"The quality of the data makes the image processing significantly easier. Today's LiDARs have severe limitations in the quality and the range of their data points as well as their point density. Typically, companies throw software at it but fundamentally, it is a hardware problem" explains Eichenholz.

"We believe the solutions we are providing will be significantly interesting to AV makers. So far, it has been frustrating to see the specifications from competitors. No one ever specify all the parameters at once, reflectivity, range, point density. We deliver millions of points per second and we can dynamically adjust where the points go, zooming in an area while still viewing everywhere.

We can adjust our vertical field of view to go up or down, based on how we scan the laser beam. We can also mitigate interferences from other LiDAR-equipped cars. We've taken all that into account", the CTO said.


Luminar's prototype LiDARs embedded for test.

Revealing a bit more about the InGaAs photodiode used in the LiDAR: "We specify an epi-wafer design from a US manufacturer. We've figured out to best detect eye-safe laser beams and we use a silicon ASIC to do the heavy lifting to approach the price point of silicon-based solutions, but with 40 times more power and a million times more energy per pulse. We have 68 times the number of photons budget than anyone else using a silicon design".

"We are pushing the boundaries of physics and the speed of light is a fundamental limitation. Light is too slow", jokingly complained the CTO, "but we are not limited by what you can buy off-the-shelf, we specifically designed all the components for our purpose. We had started with off-the-shelf components but we quickly realized that this couldn't work".

As it will grow Luminar Technologies will offer solutions with more than one laser channel on its product roadmap, but as Eichenholz put it to conclude the interview "we are not a slideware company but a hardware company".

Luminar – www.luminartech.com

 

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