11 of the top automakers have a goal of autonomous vehicles on the highway by the early 2020s.  This goal is threatened by the limitations of solid-state LiDAR resulting in a huge opportunity for the LiDAR industry to be first to market with high-performance technology capable of meeting the demands of the automotive industry.

The requirements for the automotive industry are long range and high resolution with a price-point in the hundreds. The products must be reliable and have a life-span similar to the average life of a vehicle.  Finally, the product needs to be scalable with a design that supports highly automated manufacturing as opposed to a manually-heavy process.

Micro-motion LiDAR is the latest technology which has the potential to meet these requirements. Micro-motion LiDAR has enhanced sensing capabilities with is a key feature for autonomous vehicle applications.

Micro technology (MMT) eliminates rotational or frictional mechanical components to create a more durable, low-maintenance product. The streamlined hardware design allows for a much smaller device which is attractive to auto manufacturers as it allows for seamless positioning of the LiDARs into the vehicle’s lights.

In the near future, solid state LiDAR will be utilized in close range applications where long-range, high-resolution, reduced power consumption and low cost are not a requirement. Many of the key components of solid state LiDAR cannot be economically mass produced or deliver reliable and stable performance, however.

As the world becomes increasingly more automated, the LiDAR evolution will continue.  The worldwide LiDAR market is estimated to be approximately 1.4 billion USD by 2024 strongly due in part to the introduction and acceptance of LiDAR technology in the automotive industry. For this expansion to become a reality, the future of LiDAR will be higher resolutions capable of producing camera-like images with longer range, lower cost and a smaller body style.

“Here at Q3, we like other autonomous robot developers, are keeping a close eye on MMT technology.   Autonomous rovers, will soon be produced in mass as soon as a low-cost, reliable lidar mapping device is available to the market.” Carl Sconnely, President/CEO Quartile 3 Robotics.