Continental is further strengthening its LiDAR sensor portfolio through a minority investment in LiDAR pioneer AEye, Inc. LiDAR sensors belong, besides camera and radar, to the key technologies for Automated Driving.
Continental has accumulated over 20 years of expertise in LiDAR sensors alone. AEye, located in Dublin, California (USA), has developed a long-range LiDAR technology combining an amplifiable 1550nm laser with patented feedback-controlled Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) scanner. This technology can be configured via software and thus be optimized for manufacturers vehicle and applications. The AEye LiDAR offers maximum leverage for passenger and commercial vehicle applications because it combines a high dynamic spatial resolution with a long-range detection.
Vehicles can be detected at a distance of more than 300 meters 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 meters with multiple measuring points is pivotal for Automated Driving in both passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Continental will utilize this LiDAR technology and industrialize the sensor to deliver a fully automotive-grade product. The first series production is currently scheduled for the end of 2024.
By partnering with AEye, Continental complements its existing short-range 3D Flash LiDAR technology, which goes into series production later this year, supporting highly automated driving in a global premium vehicle program. This start of production of the High-Resolution 3D Flash LiDAR (HFL) is a key milestone. It is the first high-resolution solid-state LiDAR sensor to go into series production in the automotive market worldwide.
“We now have optimum short-range and world-class long-range LiDAR technologies with their complimentary 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.
Blair LaCorte, CEO of AEye Inc., welcomes the Continental investment by saying, “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 industrialization and commercialization. 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.”