LiDARs at Image Sensors Europe 2018

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Imaging and Machine Vision Europe publishes a review of LiDAR presentations at Image Sensors Europe conference held in mid-March in London, UK. Few quotes:

"A report from Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research predicts that the market opportunity for lidar in automotive will grow from zero in 2015 to $10 billion by 2025, and $35 billion by 2030.

Oren Rosenzweig, co-founder of Israeli lidar system maker Innoviz Technologies, said at Image Sensors that the cost of lidar is prohibitive, and the performance is not good enough. Rosenzweig, speaking to Imaging and Machine Vision Europe at the show, said that $1,000 per lidar system might be acceptable for certain early adopters of the technology, but that hundreds of dollars per lidar was needed to make it attractive to automotive OEMs. As the volumes increase, however, then costs will go down.

Innoviz’s technology is a solid-state lidar combining a MEMS scanner based on a micro-mirror designed by the company; the signal is processed in a proprietary ASIC. The Innoviz One has a 250-metre detection range, an angular resolution of 0.1 x 0.1 degrees, a frame rate of 25fps, and a depth accuracy of 3cm. The device is based on 905nm laser light; 1,550nm would cost too much for the lasers and detectors, Rosenzweig said.

Solid-state lidar uses primarily 905nm lasers, according to Carl Jackson, founder and CTO of SensL, although he added that 940nm VCSEL arrays are also being developed. Jackson said that SiPMs or a SiPM array can improve sensitivity and ranging compared to avalanche photodiodes (APDs).

SensL’s first product for lidar is a 400 x 100 ToF SPAD array with high dynamic range SPAD pixels, optimised for vertical line scanning. It will be sampling in the second half of 2018. Jackson said that the sensor array can be used to create a lidar solution with 0.1 degree x-y resolution, suitable for greater than 100-metre ranging at 10 per cent reflectivity in full sunlight. Jackson also noted that VGA-quality SPAD arrays could be available next year.

Eye-safety is all about the design of the system, according to Jackson. He said that a laser pulse of 1ns from a 5mm aperture at 30 degrees angle of view in the y direction can reach 26,908W of power and still be eye safe, ‘which is plenty of power to do long-range lidar with 905nm’. He added that a 120 x 30-degree system will need 6,000W of laser power to achieve 200-metre ranging with SiPM technology.

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