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Lidar Making Inroads Across Vehicle Product Lines

Driver's safety and driver's assistance technology is gaining a reliance on radar technology. While high performance and reliable, it comes with high cost. Component prices, placement issues in the vehicle, and power requirements have relegated these solutions to premium vehicles typically as options.

Optical technologies are far more cost effective but have had some challenges working in the automotive application space. These challenges have now been fundamentally solved, and the use of lidar solutions is becoming rapidly adopted across product lines in vehicles. The fundamental core is a solid-state pulse laser diode, typically IR, and associated detector system that is used as a pair to determine distance.

The advantages of the lidar solution are the long lifetime of components (over 10 years in normal driving use), small size, low power, multiple decades of historic use model to validate the solution for reliability, and easy replacement of the module in the service/repair marketplace. The lidar market is being addressed by suppliers such as OSRAM, Maxim Integrated, and others.

The integration of these solutions with advanced optics techniques also allows for higher area coverage with a reduced number of systems. As shown in the following figure, a single lidar system located at the front or rear of the vehicle can cover an equivalent area as multiple single radar solutions.

A single lidar system located at the front or rear of a vehicle can cover the same areaas multiple radar solutions.(Source: Audi)

A single lidar system located at the front or rear of a vehicle can cover the same area
as multiple radar solutions.
(Source: Audi)

The use of the lidar system is a key short-range technology for providing pedestrian avoidance, lane change, and auto-braking solutions. In adaptive cruise control (ACC) applications, the system is used for real-time speed monitoring (as is well known for police speeding ticket applications) as well as automated/adaptive braking.

This new value proposition means small economy and entry-level cars can have the advanced safety features that will reduce accidents and insurance costs. Solutions are typically available in standardized and tested modules to simplify installation in the new vehicles.

At the front of the car, these are an “in grill” application. In the rear, they are generally installed as a trunk mount solution that is located above the license plate holder near the already existing lighting and wiring. These solutions are available now and are even making their way into motorcycles and as an add-on to RVs, boats, and other consumer vehicles.

This article was originally published on EBN's sister publication EDN.

1 comment on “Lidar Making Inroads Across Vehicle Product Lines

  1. SunitaT
    March 23, 2014

    Many kind of automotive companies make many kinds of driver assistance programs and equipment having the basic outline, but having different methods of operation. A driver who is accustomed to the driver safety program in a Mercedes may not like the same program in an Audi. This can create a shift in automotive supply chain, as potential drivers would seek out car manufacturers based on the kind of “security on road through software” they get, and this will be happening in the near future.

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