The German automotive supplier Continental is investing in the US startup AEye, which specializes in lidar sensor technology. Continental is acquiring a minority stake in the lidar pioneer, the companies announced on Tuesday. The partners did not provide any information about the financial details. AEye wants to bring its technology to series production with Continental’s help. The German manufacturer, on the other hand, is adding the technology to its own lidar portfolio.
“Continental is a recognized player in automotive sensor technology as well as in the industrialization and market introduction of vehicle components,” said AEye CEO Blair LaCorte. “We are therefore looking forward to working closely with the team to adapt our modular and scalable design to customer requirements so that Continental can deliver high-performance long-range LiDAR systems to leading vehicle manufacturers worldwide.”
Lidar for autonomous cars
Lidar sensors are an essential component for driver assistants and autonomous vehicles. AEye’s technology has no moving parts and still provides “high dynamic spatial resolution”. AEye uses a solid state lidar that can be adjusted by software so that the laser covers different distances. The technology combines a 1550 nm laser with adjustable power with a patented micro-electromechanical system as a scanner.
The method developed by AEye for object recognition in the long range up to over 300 meters is intended to complement Continental’s own 3D flash lidar designed for close range. “This puts us in an excellent position to cover the entire vehicle environment with state-of-the-art LiDAR sensor technology and thus implement automated driving at SAE Level 3 or higher in both passenger car and truck applications,” said Frank Petznick, Head of the Driver Assistance Systems business unit at Continental.
Series production at the end of the year
Continental first presented the 3D flash lidar at CES 2017. The close-range sensor has no moving parts and is able to scan different distances with a special receiver chip. According to Continental, the new sensor will go into series production “at the end of this year” at a well-known vehicle manufacturer.