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The new era of 'smart' LiDAR: What do you need to know? | An interview with SiLC Technologies

With the recent developments in LiDAR sensors, Mehdi Asghari, Founder & CEO of SiLC Technologies, spoke to us recently to give insights into the 'new era of smart LiDAR' and to discuss why this industry research is important.

Your presentation is on the new era of smart Lidar, what can we expect to learn from your talk?

Similar to what we’ve seen happening in the radar space in the past, the latest development in LiDAR is to use the frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) approach. In this presentation you’ll learn more about the benefits of FMCW over the traditional pulsed time-of-flight (ToF) approach from silicon photonics veterans. The FMCW approach, specifically with silicon photonics chip-integration, will drive the proliferation and adoption of AVs with uncompromising safety benefits, increased reliability, more flexible design and lower costs.

Why is this research important in the industry at the moment?

The world of mobility is in the midst of a renaissance. At the center is how the driving landscape is changing as OEMs and integrators prepare to launch autonomous vehicles in the real world. There has never been a stronger sense of urgency to conduct LiDAR research as it relates to autonomous vehicles than right now. The majority of current LIDAR players rely on TOF and 905nm due to the availability and cost of components required to enable an FMCW solution. If the cost and availability issue could be addressed, much higher performing and safer LiDARs could be enabled through the use of FMCW technology. TOF and 905nm have proven to be a LiDAR technology where the level of eye safety is low due to high power laser pulses that are close to the visible range.  Also, they don’t provide instant velocity of the 3D pixels. Our work on 4D+ vision expands the vehicle’s ability to accurately sense four dimensions (distance, velocity, reflectivity and depth), which protect the car, the driver, bystanders and other drivers. FMCW is the only practical solution enabling instantaneous velocity measurement of objects around the vehicle, which is critical for successful commercial deployment of AV solutions in a safe manner. As experts in silicon photonics and leaders in chip integration, our research and expertise has led us to develop a coherent integrated chip which will help drive the industry forward by enabling a low cost FMCW solution. We’re making that safety and high-performance capability affordable to achieve ubiquity.

What are the main challenges that the industry is facing and how do you think that this conference can address them?

Safety and cost are the most important hurdles facing global AV adoption and hence, business obstacles for all LiDAR players. Even the rare safety incidents cause fear and credibility challenges for the entire sector. The main challenges will be implementing an approach that is cost effective, and one that democratizes access to safe high-performance LiDAR. This conference will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and for business development that will help improve accessibility.

What are you most looking forward to hearing about at IS Auto Asia 2019?

I'm most looking forward to hearing what other LiDAR developers have to say about the issues of regulation, infrastructure and other challenges they face. IS Auto Asia 2019 will expose SiLC to new speakers that have new and promising technologies that we are keen to learn about.

Mehdi will be presenting as part of the Road to autonomous driving: Next generation image sensors session at IS Auto Asia 2019. Other presentations in the session include:

  • Embedded sensor fusion and perception - Raul Bravo, President & Co-Founder, Dibotics
  • Mastering challenges in high quality mass production of camera modules and LiDAR systems for ADAS - Dir Seebaum, Manager, Business Unit Automation, Trioptics
  • The LiDAR landscape - Anand Gopalan, Chief Technology Officer, Velodyne LiDAR
  • High power VCSEL photonics for LiDAR applications - Fumio Koyama, Director-General, Institute of Innovative Research, Tokyo Insitute of Technology
  • An overview of modern automotive HDR image sensors - Dana Diezemann, Senior Vision Consultant, Image Sensors and Cameras