How interesting would it be to find out how far is everything away from you? LiDAR makes it possible.
How interesting would it be to find out how far is everything away from you? Well, not a distant dream as LiDAR makes it possible. The technology makes use of light in the form of pulsed laser to compute ranges or distances to objects, helping to analyze an object or area from some distance away. These light pulses along with other data captured by the LiDAR create precise 3D data about the earth shape and its surface features. Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used mediums for collecting LiDAR data over broad areas. LiDAR systems find applications in numerous domains such as geography, geology, ecology, pedology, hydrology, conservation biology, and forestry. They help estimate road networks, flood risks, storms, earthquakes, restricted areas for access such as wetlands and wildlife reserves, coastal zones, river banks, underwater shipwrecks, seafloor structure, soil erosion, suitability of habitat for animals, amount of gases and chemicals present in the atmosphere, and much more.
The LiDAR market is witnessing a boom in the current times. Its growth stands to benefit from the growing adoption of 3D imaging technology to capture geospatial scans for military, forest, agricultural, and civil infrastructure purposes. New innovations in the laser technology are helping to bring price corrections in LiDAR products. Moreover, the changing demands and preferences of consumers reveal newer LiDAR applications besides conventional military applications. The factors that limit the growth of the LiDAR industry include the high cost of LiDAR instruments and the lack of awareness of these systems among consumers. In a report published by Progressive Markets, the LiDAR market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 18.5% during the forecast period.
Manufacturers are bringing new innovations in the LiDAR market with the aim of contributing to groundbreaking applications in various industries. For instance, in January 2018, Quanergy Systems, a Silicon Valley-based company opened a new LiDAR production facility in California to bring capable, reliable and affordable lidar sensors to the mass market. In the same month and year, AEye, an advanced automotive vision developer launched a new LiDAR technology that helps in dynamic perception and path planning. Innoviz, an Israel-based maker of LiDAR sensors recently unveiled its InnovizPro, a MEMS-based scanning LiDAR system that helps autonomous cars see the surrounding environment via the 3D data generated by the system. In order to prepare itself for the future of driving, General Motors, a U.S. automaker acquired Strobe, a California-based LIDAR maker.
Quanergy Systems Opens LiDAR Facility
Quanergy Systems Inc. recently opened a new LiDAR production factory in Sunnyvale, California. Representing a significant milestone for the firm, the facility manufactures the company’s patented S3 solid-state lidar sensors. With the establishment of this facility, Quanergy is now the only company to mass produce reliable, affordable, and electronically steered solid-state 3D lidar sensors. The facility features a high-capacity and fully automated production line in a clean room environment.
The facility also features calibration and final testing facilities, allowing Quanergy to supervise the entire production process and provide high quality and reliability. Louay Eldada, founder and CEO of Quanergy said, “We fully expect that these sensors will play an integral role in bringing self-driving vehicles to the road, as the unparalleled solid-state reliability and silicon CMOS cost make them only viable sensors to produce Level 4 and Level 5 – highly and fully automated – passenger vehicles and will also contribute to groundbreaking applications in industrial automation and security.”
AEye Introduces New LiDAR Technology
AEye released its iDAR technology at the CES 2018 in January 2018. The advanced, reliable, intelligent, and affordable technology allows fast and dynamic perception and enhanced path planning. The start-up also introduced the AEye AE100, a solid-state robotic-perception system for autonomous-vehicle.
The company says that the iDAR technology goes beyond today’s lidar systems and mimics how humans focus on and evaluate potential driving hazards. Instead of giving attention to all the elements in a scene, iDAR optimizes its data collection, enabling it to transfer fewer data of higher quality and relevance. The system also is software-definable, meaning it can adapt to environments as they change. AE100 incorporates three core elements such as the MOEMS LiDAR, pre-fused and bore-sighted with a low-light high-definition camera, distributed artificial intelligence and software-definable and extensible hardware.
Innoviz Releases InnovizPro
Innoviz Technologies unveiled its InnovizPro, a stand-alone, solid-state, MEMS-based scanning LiDAR solution. One of the most accurate and reliable Lidar sensors available today, the system delivers groundbreaking 3D sensing at a significantly lower cost. It caters to the automotive industry’s needs for performance, reliability, cost, compact size and product maturity.
InnovizPro allows the company’s partners to test and develop the next generation of autonomous driving programs. Moreover, its availability allows the firm to tap into more markets, including industrial automation, security, and surveillance, logistics and others.
General Motors acquired Strobe, a LiDAR technology start-up in October 2017. The latter’s engineering team joins GM’s Cruise Automation division to create next-generation lidar solutions for self-driving vehicles. Julie Schoenfeld, founder, and CEO of Strobe said that the successful deployment of autonomous vehicles would be highly dependent on the availability of lidar sensors. She also said that Strobe’s deep engineering talent and technology would help GM and Cruise bring these vehicles to market very soon. GM also considers Strobe important as it supports its mission of bringing prices down while enhancing the capabilities of self-guiding transport.
About the author
Sharmistha Sarkar is a technical writer and market analyst at Progressive Markets. She has extensive knowledge on different subjects, with a keen focus on emerging technologies.