Digitimes Research: Development of small-size, low-cost LiDAR sensors leads to wider application

Hana Hu, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei 0

LiDAR sensors, whose use had been previously limited to surveillance in tunnels and at factories due to prohibitive pricing, will see growing adoption for self-driving, drone and home-use robotic applications, as vendors have been developing solid-state LiDAR sensors of smaller sizes at lower production cost.

LiDAR sensors may be inferior to millimeter-wave radars under adverse weather conditions, but are much superior in ranging and recognizing objects under normal weather conditions.

Due to reliance on mechanical swivels to change laser beam emitting angles for collecting 3D information on the shape of objects, LiDAR sensors were heavy and entailed high production cost in the past. Instead, solid-state LiDAR sensors can have varying laser beam emitting angles without using mechanical swivels.

While US-based Velodyne LiDAR has launched hybrid sold-state LiDAR sensor models with matched mechanical swivels, US-based Quanergy Systems has unveiled a complete solid-state LiDAR sensor, S3, and plans to begin production for sale at US$250 in 2017. In addition to Velodyne and Quanergy, other vendors have been developing inexpensive solid-state LiDAR sensor models, including Israel-based Innoviz Technologies, US-based TriLumina, Canada-based LeddarTech and Phantom Intelligence.

LiDAR technology can be used to enable robots to detect and range surrounding objects to avoid collision. US-based Neato Robotics and China-based Ecovacs Robotics have adopted LiDAR sensors for home-use cleaning robots.