LiDAR, an acronym for light detection and ranging, is simply the most important aspect of any autonomous vehicle, it is seen by some as the ever watching eye, constantly collecting data and enabling the vehicle to by pass obstacles in its path.
The primary function of LiDAR sensors is to measure the distance between itself and objects in its field of view. It does so by calculating the time taken by a pulse of light to travel to an object and back to the sensor, based on the speed of light constant. As the pulses of light sent by a LiDAR hit objects of irregular shapes with various reflective properties, the incident light signal are scattered, so that only a small fraction of the light returns back to the LiDAR receiver.
To overcome this deficiency, almost all mechanical LiDAR physically rotate the laser/receiver assembly, which enables the mechanical scanning LiDAR to collect data over a wide area (up to 360 degrees). A typical mechanical scanning LiDAR is bulky, fragile and costs several thousands of dollars.
Solid-State LiDARs (SSL)
New solid-state designs are being developed to address the cost, size, reliability and complexity issues of mechanical scanning LiDARs. Built with no mechanical components, SSL do have some limitations in field-of-view coverage (usually not exceeding 90 to 120 degrees), but their lower cost provides the capability of combining two or more sensors to increase the area covered.
From their Headoffice in Quebec City – Canada, founded in 2007, LeddarTech is fast becoming an industry leader providing possibly the most versatile, scalable automotive-grade LiDAR development platform currently available on the market.
Basic Geeky bits
RS-LiDAR-M1 is based on the unique LeddarEngine, which consists of a suite of automotive-grade and functional safety certified systems on chip (SoCs) working in tandem with the LeddarSP signal processing software.
You need more? Well, In a Nutshell Leddar™ is a proprietary LiDAR technology that can detect, locate and measure objects, including liquids and people, in a given field of view.
It is essentially an cluster of software, algorithms and technical wizardry know-hows that are used to design or optimize various types of solid-state LiDAR sensors.
“The RoboSense RS-LiDAR-M1 LiDAR system is a giant leap forward for driverless technology,” said Mark Qiu, Co-founder, RoboSense. “We are committed to developing high-performance automotive-grade LiDAR at a low cost to advance the LiDAR market, so that LiDAR can be used in fully unmanned vehicles, as well as assisted autonomous driving with superior environmental information detection that ensures driving safety. ”
Sounds achievable? The new RS-LiDAR-M1 MEMS optomechanical LiDAR provides a 120° FOV (Field of View), that is a 100% increase in horizontal field of view when compared to the previous generation. The FOV increase decreases the number of RS-LiDAR-M1s needed to cover the 360° FOV, and reportedly leaves no blind zone around the car.
The new RS-LiDAR-M1 with patented MEMS technology reportedly offers vehicle intelligence awareness to fully support Level 5 operation, and the current target production cost is around $200 each.
So it does seem that Mark Qiu, is on track to deliver on his promise.