MORGAN HILL, Calif.— Velodyne LiDAR Inc., a prominent developer of light, detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, has developed a design for a solid-state LiDAR sensor that reportedly makes the sensors less expensive, easier to integrate due to their smaller size, and more reliable as a result of fewer moving parts. The design, which can be integrated in Velodyne LiDAR’s existing Puck form factors, is reported to yield a subsystem cost of under $50 U.S. when sold in high-volume manufacturing scale.
Velodyne LiDAR (www.velodynelidar.com) is optimistic that the technology will spur proliferation of LiDAR sensors in multiple industry sectors, including autonomous vehicles, ridesharing, 3D mapping, and drones.
“Our new design approach creates a true solid-state LiDAR sensor, while significantly raising the bar as to what can be expected from LiDAR sensors as far as cost, size, and reliability,” said David Hall, founder and CEO of Velodyne LiDAR, in a company release. “Together with our customers and partners, we strive to create a world where LiDAR sensors increase safety and freedom for people everywhere, and this new design is a huge step in that direction.”
Velodyne LiDAR’s new approach to the development of solid-state LiDAR sensors reflects the application of a monolithic gallium nitride (GaN) integrated circuit, developed in partnership with Efficient Power Conversion (EPC). The design consolidates components and is said to result in significant advances in sensor miniaturization, reliability, and cost reduction. At less than 4mm square, each integrated circuit is of a size that “just covers George Washington’s nose on the U.S. quarter,” according to Velodyne LiDAR.
“As LiDAR technology continues to gain widespread adoption, GaN technology brings higher performance, resulting in higher image resolution, all while offering enhanced integration of key functions that ultimately lead to reduced overall cost for LiDAR-based system solutions,” said Dr. Alex Lidow, CEO and co-founder of Efficient Power Conversion Corporation, in the release.
Velodyne LiDAR’s design is currently being tested and integrated into future products. The company expects to announce a release date sometime in 2017.
“Velodyne’s decades of LiDAR expertise places it in the best position to define and develop power- and performance-optimized integrated circuits specific to LiDAR,” said Anand Gopalan, vice president of research & development for Velodyne LiDAR, in the release. “This technology really opens the door to miniaturization and gives Velodyne the ability to build LiDARs in various form factors for many diverse applications. We will soon have a portfolio of integrated circuits to address various aspects of LiDAR functionality, paving the way to a whole new generation of reliable, miniaturized, and cost-competitive LiDAR products.”