We are in the midst of one of the most exciting periods of technology advances in a generation — the emergence of vehicles that are aware of the driving environment, react and control themselves and, ultimately, operate autonomously. Recent developments in the LiDAR space, such as TriLuminas powerful and flexible LiDAR laser emitters, are accelerating the path to mass adoption and deployment in consumer vehicles.
ADAS Today, Semi-Autonomous and Autonomous Operation by 2020
The first wave of advanced safety sensors are becoming the automakers most important selling feature. Rapid growth and adoption of advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as assisted cruise control, emergency braking, parking assist and blind spot detection result from advanced sensors and electronics that can sense, recognize, decide and act upon changes in the driving environment. The first wave of ADAS has relied on visual systems, radar and ultrasound.
The next wave requires more capable systems to meet higher performance and reliability demands. Todays family of sensors is reaching its capability limit. Automakers and Tier 1 suppliers are challenged to balance performance, cost, size, power requirements and reliability in their development of ADAS and autonomous systems. LiDAR offers increased range and higher resolution for safer, more robust, higher intelligence systems.TriLuminas new laser sources, together with advances in electronic and processing solutions are helping address these factors.
With over 400,000 autonomous miles logged, Google proves the robustness and capability of LiDAR technology. Advances in sensor fusion and processing from multiple sources, such as video, permit the enhancement of LiDAR data. Velodynes Calibrated Reflectivity is just one example of sensor fusion where automation of the post-processing results in shorter process times, significant cost savings and better performance. Next-generation digital signal processors (DSPs) from Texas Instruments are key enablers of this kind of sensor fusion, especially their ability to handle input from many sensors at once.
The ADAS market is expected to represent a $250 billion market in 2020. LiDAR sits at the epicenter of this enormous market. The question is no longer if fully autonomous vehicles will be operating alongside human controlled cars its when. The auto industry estimates it will be less than a decade. Government regulators and insurance providers are pushing and consumers are pulling. While photonics pioneers like TriLumina are working overtime to accelerate the schedule.
LiDAR is the Future
Those of us fortunate enough to be part of the ADAS and autonomous driving markets understand the critical role that LiDAR plays in vehicles of the future. Fused with video and radar data, LiDAR will ultimately form the foundation of vehicular sensing functionality. Integral to all current and future semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles is LiDAR. Limited by large form factors, mechanical limitations and high cost, LiDAR solutions have always appeared to be several design cycles further out on the horizon.
The importance of LiDAR is undisputed, but adoption is stalled due to cost and size. Todays systems remain orders of magnitude too expensive for consumer adoption. Much of the cost and form factor problems are due to the laser component.
The photonics team at TriLumina expects to break the barrier with the introduction of a family of small, inexpensive, high power/brightness semiconductor LiDAR laser solutions.
TriLumina Enables Multiple LiDAR Solutions
TriLumina has developed a high-power, high-brightness, low profile LiDAR laser solution at a price point that will drive the mass adoption of LiDAR solutions. TriLumina provides a tight, powerful and bright beam to illuminate MEMs-based LiDAR systems. TriLumina offers solid state scanning capabilities to miniaturize and enhance mechanical systems. TriLuminas powerful arrays will fill a wide field of view in flash LiDAR systems.
We expect that multiple LiDAR systems will be fused to create a complete vehicle sensor envelope. Flash, mechanical and MEMs systems will be integrated into body moldings and headlight clusters. Powerful forward-looking LiDAR, located in the grill or roof will be able to view activity and hazards ahead. TriLumina – powered interior time of flight sensors will monitor driver alertness and trigger the systems awareness state. Driving will become safer, more efficient, and enable the driver to multi-task safely. Lives will be saved, people will be more relaxed, and our lives enriched.