Infineon Technologies has acquired Innoluce BV, a fabless semiconductor company headquartered in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in order to boost its capabilities in lidar systems that will be used in future driverless cars. Infineon said that it will be able develop chip components for next generation high-performance lidar systems.

Lidar, radar and camera will be the three key sensor technologies for semi-automated and fully automated cars. Infineon says the acquisition delivers expertise in all three complementary sensor systems which "provide the redundancy required for autonomous driving". While radar uses radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, lidar employs laser beams to measure the distance to objects adjacent to the car. Scanning lidar systems help to detect small objects on the road.

"With this acquisition, we take a big step into the lidar technology that will play an important role in the safety cocoon essential to fully automated cars," said Peter Schiefer, President of the Automotive division at Infineon. "We intend to make lidar an affordable feature for every new-built car worldwide".

Infineon says the first lidar systems introduced in premium cars within the next couple of years are "based on mechanical scanning mirrors and, thus, are bulky and rather expensive". To become a standard feature in all car classes, lidar systems "need to be semiconductor-based, thus getting more compact, cost-effective, and robust", the company says.