Valeo has unveiled its third generation scanning LiDAR, due to make its market debut in 2024.
Valeo’s technology reconstructs a 3D real-time image of the vehicle’s surroundings at a rate of 4.5m pixels and 25 frames per second.
Compared to the previous generation, the resolution has been increased 12-fold, the range 3-fold and the viewing angle, 2.5-fold.
The French supplier maintains the new LiDAR can see things humans, cameras and radars cannot. This means driving can be delegated to the vehicle in many situations (level 2 automation and above), including on the road at speeds of up to 130km/h. Even in such situations, a vehicle fitted with the third generation scanning LiDAR can manage emergency situations autonomously.
Valeo’s scanning LiDAR detects, recognises and classifies all objects located around the car. If the objects are moving, it measures their speed and direction. The scanning LiDAR can adapt to all light conditions, whether dazzlingly bright or pitch black. It also measures density of raindrops to calculate the right braking distance.
It tracks nearby vehicles, even when they are no longer in the driver’s line of sight and uses algorithms to anticipate their trajectories and trigger necessary safety manoeuvres.
“If I speak about pure LiDAR, this development is definitely allowing us to have big investment,” Valeo LiDAR Technical Product Line director, Clément Nouvel, told just-auto from Paris. “We are investing drastically in LiDAR. Our investment is increasing and obviously is to [address] the market that is expanding very fast…and a big part of it is going to the third generation.”
The new technology offers “previously unseen” levels of road safety, maintains the manufacturer.
“Valeo’s third generation LiDAR is a major technological advance towards the autonomous vehicle,” added Valeo SVP R&D and Strategy, Geoffrey Bouquot. “This upgrade strengthens Valeo’s technological and industrial leadership in the field, when it was already the only supplier on the market currently series producing an automotive-grade LiDAR scanner.
“Our number one goal with this device remains the same – to save lives on the road.”
Beyond the vehicles it equips, the LiDAR will alert, via the cloud, other vehicles concerning road hazards.
Valeo designs and manufactures the entire system, including hardware, software and associated artificial intelligence, the ‘brain’ that combines collected data and enables the vehicle to make the right decision.
Its software automatically adapts to the environment and improves its performance in time through regular updates. Valeo’s LiDARs are produced in Germany at Valeo’s Wemding plant in Bavaria, where components are assembled.
“ADAS is a big growth driver and we are leaders in this market for autonomous mobility,” Bouquot added to just-auto. “The idea is to expand our leadership there.”
The Wemding plant’s production lines draw on Valeo’s experience in optics, mechanics and photonics, the branch of physics which focuses on the emission and detection of light particles, or photons.
Some 300 engineers at Valeo are dedicated solely to the technology, for which more than 500 patents have already been filed.
Valeo notes up to 30% of premium new vehicles are due to reach level 3 automation by 2030 and to do so will need to be equipped with LiDAR technology. As well as cars, autonomous shuttles, robotaxis, delivery droids, autonomous trucks or the agriculture, mining and infrastructure sectors will need to be equipped with one or more LiDARs.
The LiDAR market is expected to represent more than US$50bn by 2030.