ABI Research forecasts that out of all consumer vehicles sold in 2025, a staggering eight million will feature SAE Level 3 or higher autonomous functions.
OEMs today are ambitious in their timelines for the deployment of high-level AVs. This drive to innovate is also strongly advancing development of lidar technology, which will be key to making higher levels of autonomy a reality. For Level 3 and 4 autonomy, drivers are still necessary, but are able to completely shift safety-critical functions to the vehicle under certain conditions. This requires reliable, advanced sensing systems, so ABI predicts that as many as 36 million lidar units will ship in 2025, corresponding to a market value of US$7.2bn.
“With the rapid development and deployment of various ADAS packages by OEMs, higher-level automation represents the next suitable step,” said Shiv Patel, research analyst at ABI Research. “The primary functional sensor gap between today’s ADAS and higher level AVs will be filled with the addition of lidar, which will help to provide reliable obstacle detection and simultaneous location and mapping.”
ABI says that for conditional and high-level automation applications within the consumer market SAE Level 3 and 4 solid-state lidar solutions from companies such as Innoviz and LeddarTech have emerged as the lidar form factor that will not only help enable robust sensing on AVs but satisfy stringent pricing requirements set by OEMs. These units are expected to reach price points of US$200-750 per unit by 2020, for low- and high-end solutions respectively. The report authors comment that at this price, even with multiple sensors around the car, using solid-state lidar solutions represents a feasible option to OEMs on premium models.
For fully autonomous, Level 5 applications, where the aim is that no driver is needed at all, much more expensive, traditional mechanical lidar solutions, with higher resolution for robust sensing remain the go-to option. The report authors say that players targeting the robotaxi use case aren’t too concerned with vehicle ASPs, as their short-term objective is mostly a kind of land grab, trying to maximize their share in the emerging smart mobility market. In these market conditions, ABI research says it is purely a race to be the first to eliminate the driver, who represents the single biggest cost for these companies. Although the performance of solid-state lidar continues to improve, mechanical lidar as part of a broader suite of other sensor types is currently seen as the only short-term option to enable full automation for these aggressive implementers.