Continental acquires stake in lidar expert AEye

October 28, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Continental acquires stake in lidar expert AEye
The technology company Continental is expanding its lidar portfolio by acquiring a minority stake in the American lidar pioneer AEye Inc. (Dublin, Calif). With this move, the automotive supplier intends to lay the foundation for the industrialisation of AEye's technology.

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.

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