Continental wants to become the quintessential car sensor company by strengthening its LiDAR portfolio with an investment in LiDAR pioneer AEye, Inc. LiDAR is a key technology for self-driving cars and AEye has been at the forefront of it with its 20-year experience in the field and patented feedback-controlled microelectromechanical system scanner. AEye's technology can be deployed via software and thus can be optimised manufacturers. The AEye LiDAR provides high dynamic spatial resolution with a long-range. It can detect vehicles with more than 300 metres and pedestrians at a distance of more than 200 meters. AEye's ability to detect small, low-reflective objects such as bricks at a distance of 160 metres also helps with automated driving.
“ADAS solutions require a unique mix of performance, scalability, packaging, and a long-term commitment to reliability and safety. Continental is a recognized leader in automotive sensing technology as well as in automotive product industrialisation and commercialisation. We look forward to working closely with their team to customize our modular and scalable design to deliver Continentals high -performance long-range LiDAR systems to the world's leading vehicle manufacturers,” said Blair LaCorte, CEO of AEye on the Continental investment.
With this investment in AEye, Continental will utilise its LiDAR technology which is set for production at the end of 2024. Continental will complement this LiDAR with its short-range 3D Flash LiDAR which is going into production later in 2020. This is the first high-resolution solid-state LiDAR to go into production.
“We now have optimum short-range and world-class long-range LiDAR technologies with their complementary set of benefits under one roof. This puts us in a strong position to cover the full vehicle environment with state-of-the-art LiDAR sensor technology and to facilitate Automated Driving at SAE levels 3 or higher in both passenger cars and commercial vehicle applications,” said Frank Petznick, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) business unit at Continental.
LiDAR is considered to be a pivotal technology for self-driving cars which was first introduced in Waymo's self-driving cars. LiDAR miniaturisation has reached such a degree that it is now even on the latest iPhone 12 Pro providing better low light sensitivity, auto focusing and spatial awareness for augmented reality.