MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—A next generation Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) LiDAR system from Aeva is said to integrate all the key elements of a LiDAR sensor into a miniaturized photonics chip. Aeva, a developer of next-generation sensing for autonomous vehicles, said in a release that its 4D LiDAR-on-chip, Aeries, is “a critical milestone for the autonomous vehicles industry.”
Aeva’s 4D LiDAR-on-chip is reported to significantly reduce the size and power of the device by orders of magnitude while achieving full range performance of over 300m for low reflective objects. It can also measure instant velocity for every point—a first for the autonomous vehicle industry, Aeva said. The LiDAR-on-chip will cost less than $500 at scale, in contrast to the several tens of thousands of dollars for today’s LiDAR sensors.
“One of the biggest roadblocks to bringing autonomous vehicles to the mainstream has been the lack of a high-performance and low-cost LiDAR that can scale to millions of units per year,” said Soroush Salehian, co-founder of Aeva, in the release. “From the beginning, we’ve believed that the only way to truly address this problem was to build a unique LiDAR-on-chip sensing system that can be manufactured at silicon scale.”
Unlike other LiDAR technologies, Aeva’s 4D LiDAR-on-chip measures the instant velocity of every point on objects beyond 300m. It is free from interference from other sensors or sunlight, and it operates at only fractions of the optical power typically required to achieve such long range performance. As a result, it increases the factor of safety and scalability for autonomous driving, according to Aeva.
Aeva (www.aeva.com) said that Aeries differs from other FMCW approaches in its unique ability to provide multiple millions of points per second for each beam, resulting in ultra-high-fidelity data that has been unprecedented until today.
“Not all FMCW LiDARs are created equally,” said Mina Rezk, co-Founder of Aeva. “A key differentiator of our approach is breaking the dependency between maximum range and points density, which has been a barrier for time-of-flight and FMCW LiDARs so far. Our 4D LiDAR integrates multiple beams on a chip, each beam uniquely capable of measuring more than 2 million points per second at distances beyond 300m.”
Porsche SE, a majority voting shareholder of the Volkswagen Group that comprises major brands including VW Passenger and Commercial Vehicles, Audi, and Porsche, as well as Scania and MAN trucking brands, recently made a significant investment in the company. The investment is Porsche SE’s only investment in LiDAR technology and expands on the existing partnership between Aeva and Audi’s self-driving unit.
“We have scanned the market closely and believe Aeva’s 4D LiDAR on a chip technology is the best LiDAR solution on the market, solving a fundamental bottleneck for perception in taking autonomous driving to mass scale,” said Alex Hitzinger, senior vice president of autonomous driving at VW Group and CEO of VW Autonomy GmbH. “Together we are looking into using Aeva’s 4D LiDAR for our VW ID Buzz AV, which is scheduled to launch in 2022/23.”
Aeries features a 120-degree field-of-view at only half the size of Aeva’s first product. It is said to meet the final production requirements for autonomous driving robo-taxis and large volume ADAS customers, and will be available for use in development vehicles in the first half of 2020.