Lidar, is a short form of light radar, is an essential enabling technology for driverless cars. The detector offers a 3D point cloud of the cars encompassing. Over the years, dozens of lidar startups have been created. Besides, they have made big promises about better prices and performance. In early 2018, Ars covered the laser companies’ significant trends, which made experts expected a low price, and better systems to arrive in the market in the next few years. With this background out of the way, ten leading companies are coming with cheap lidar.
The company invented a modern three-dimension sensor over a decade ago, and it has continued to dominate the lidar market ever since. The firm recently launched a 64 laser lidar unit and sold it fairly compared to other companies. Moreover, the company also produces a 16 laser puck model and Velarray, which costs less than $1000.
Luminar is seen as the greatest rivalry of Velodyne. The company has been in business since 2012 and begun large production of lidar last year. Luminaire has also been tight about prices; however, last year, the company CEO said lidar needs to get down to low single-digits thousands to be visible to the consumers in the market. To the company, this is not an issue.
To some extent, ouster takes after Velodyne lidars. Both companies sell units with 16, 64, and 128 lasers, which is not a coincidence. Outers fashioned its products to drop-in replacement for Velodyne units.
This company’s lidar is similar to Luminar. It uses a mechanically scanned mirror for beam steering. Besides, it uses a laser at the eye-safe wavelength. Most of the company’s lidar has a fixed scanning pattern, and it takes a distinct approach that the company calls agile scanning.
The company’s optical layer is built on standard optical fiber communication components, which they say it’s the website. Recently, the company launched a powerful new lidar whose initial cost is $20000 for a single unit.
This is one of the most secretive lidar startups. Its main idea is to move all of its delicate gear into the car’s trunk. This central processing unit is connected to fiber optic cables, which are cheap, long-lasting sensor heads and be placed on the outside of the vehicle.
Because some companies are producing high price lidar, Cepton has aimed at building mid-range lidar systems that are affordable enough to incorporate into cars in the next few years.
Just like Cepton, Innoviz has focused on scoring large deals with automakers. They’ve hawking affordable medium-range lidar units suitable for use in ADAS systems.
It has steered clear adding of lidar systems to their cars since they’re expensive, and the company believes no more effective than stereo setups. However, it does use lidar to validate the efficacy of its cameras, though.
The company got several hype three years down the line when it announced a solid-state lidar product that would cost less than $250 at the production level. However, critics say that it is still unable to fulfill this promise.
The bottom line
As society considers the near future with driverless vehicles, lidar continues to be a hot topic. Since 2016, there has been a significant interest in automotive lidar, which has resulted in many companies venturing into lidar products production. In some years back, companies like Waymo and others produced expensive lidar systems. With time, companies such as Luminar and Quanergy came with low-priced lidar products that are affordable to all kinds of consumers in the market.