Continental acquires stake in long-range lidar supplier

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Technology company Continental is further strengthening its lidar sensor portfolio through a minority investment in lidar developer AEye. The company, located in Dublin, California, has developed a long-range lidar technology combining an amplifiable 1,550nm laser with a feedback-controlled microelectromechanical system (MEMS) scanner.

The company’s system combines a high dynamic spatial resolution with a long-range detection, which it says means vehicles can be detected at a distance of more than 300m and pedestrians at a distance of more than 200m. Furthermore, it also has an ability to detect small, low-reflective objects, such as bricks, at a distance of 160m with multiple measuring points. Continental hopes to utilize the lidar technology and industrialize the sensor to deliver a fully automotive-grade product, with series production currently scheduled for the end of 2024.

By partnering with AEye, Continental says it is complementing 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.

“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.

Blair LaCorte, CEO of AEye, added, “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 Continental’s high-performance long-range lidar systems to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers.”

Commercial vehicles, with their large mass and longer stopping distance, face special challenges to enable safe automated driving. Automation for these vehicles will require a maximum sensor range and resolution to ensure sufficient processing time for automated decisions and actions.

Continental notes that it uses tailored automotive-grade lidar technology for both short- and long-range sensing. For the short range, 3D Flash lidar technology offers 3D pixel images very quickly and precisely by illuminating and capturing an entire scene in one pulse per frame of data (global shutter technology). For a robust detection of objects at long-range distances, 1,550nm agile lidar technology provides a proven combination of software configurable HD resolution of over 1,600 points per square degree and detection ranges beyond 300m.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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