Bosch develops LiDAR sensor for automated vehicles

Bosch developing LiDAR sensors for autonomous vehicles
Bosch will develop mass producible LiDAR sensors, complementing its radar and camera sensors for autonomous vehicles. (Bosch)

Autonomous vehicles continue to see a flurry of development that brings their adoption closer to reality. German technology company Bosch is embracing the trend towards autonomous vehicles by announcing it would develop production-ready LiDAR sensors, according to a statement on the company’s website. Bosch expects the sensors to be suited for autonomous vehicles for SAE Levels 3 to 5.

According to Bosch, the LiDAR sensor will both reduce the price for the sophisticated technology and render it suitable for the mass market. “By filling the sensor gap, Bosch is making automated driving a viable possibility in the first place,” said Bosch management board member Harald Kroeger, in a statement.

While there has been endless debate about which technologies—LiDAR, radar, or cameras—would become the preferred technology for future vehicles, Bosch believe only the parallel development of all three sensing technologies would maximize the safety of autonomous vehicles when they emerge. The company cited the example of a motorcycle approaching an automated vehicle at high speed at a junction where LiDAR is needed along with camera and radar to ensure the motorcycle is detected regardless of lighting and other factors.

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For Bosch, LiDAR will enable vehicles to detect reliably detect objects of different finishes, shapes, and sizes over a long range and wide field of vision, giving sufficient time for vehicle steering and braking systems to react in a safe manner. At the same time, because Bosch is counting on radar and camera systems to provide sensing capability, the stresses to which the LiDAR system components would be exposed are compensated by the other technologies.  

“We want to make automated driving safe, convenient, and fascinating. In this way, we will be making a decisive contribution to the mobility of the future,” added Kroeger. The company believes its long-range LiDAR will not only fulfill all safety requirements for automated driving, but will also enable automakers to efficiently integrate the technology into a very wide range of vehicle types in the future.

Recently, Bosch engineers succeeded in taking the camera technology used in cars to a new level by enhancing it with artificial intelligence. The camera technology detects objects, categorizes them into classes such as vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycles, and measures their movement. In congested urban traffic, the camera can also recognize and classify partially obscured or crossing vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists quickly and reliably. This allows the vehicle to trigger a warning or an emergency braking maneuver as required.

Bosch engineers are also continuously refining radar technology. Bosch’s latest radar sensors are even better at capturing the vehicle’s surroundings—including in bad weather or poor light conditions. Their greater detection range, wide aperture, and high angular separability are the basis for this improved performance.

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