Analog Devices discusses autonomous vehicle sensors

March 12, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Analog Devices discusses autonomous vehicle sensors
Despite the large amounts of money raised by startups in lidar and radar sensing for autonomous vehicles – some of it from Tier 1 automotive suppliers – both established companies and startups could eventually share the business.

That's according to Stefan Steyerl director of sales for mobility and transportation at Analog Devices. In an interview conducted at Embedded World in Nuremberg he pointed out to eeNews Europe that at level 3 autonomy and above – level 5 is full autonomy – any system will need a coherent combination of optical systems, radar and lidar.

"You need all three. There's only two cars in production that have lidar; the Audi A8 and the Audi A7," Steyerl said.

Stefan Steyerl, director of sales for mobility
and transportation at Analog Devices

And Analog Devices has its own lidar and radar solutions for autonomous vehicles. "We decided not to invest in cameras. There's plenty of that technology and really it's all about the processing. But in lidar we can demonstrate the whole signal path," he added.

Early prototypes of lidar were constructed with rotating heads but these are bulky and were never going to be acceptable to automobile makers, said Steyerl. The automobile makers needed to preserve their sleek aerodynamic profiles and were clearly going to opt eventually for some sort of beam-steering solution.

And this was the reason ADI acquired technology from Vescent Photonics Inc. (Golden, Colorado) in November 2016, which had developed a liquid-crystal-based laser beam steering technology (see Analog Devices buys laser-beam-steering tech in LIDAR push).

Optical cameras are good for object recognition but don't understand how far away something is; and therefore how much time there is to run before impact, said Steyerl. Radar uses radio-frequency electromagnetic waves to measure distance but does not have the resolution of an optical camera. Lidar uses laser beams to measure the distance and recognize objects. Scanning lidar systems can be used to detect objects on or near the roadway and fill the blind spots known to exist when using radar and cameras, he continued.

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