At the CES® 2022 show, automotive major Continental, virtually debuted its HRL131 long-range LiDAR for Level 3 and Level 4 assisted and automated driving solutions from its partner, AEye. The Dublin, California-based AEye, Inc. is a premier provider of intelligent, next generation, adaptive LiDAR for vehicle autonomy, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), and robotic vision applications.
According to the company, the modular system design and software programmability of AEye’s LiDAR enables AEye to produce a single LiDAR system that can be optimized for multiple markets, while uniquely driving innovation and reducing costs. For the ADAS market, AEye licenses its technology to Tier 1 automotive suppliers such as Continental, which has announced it has integrated AEye’s long-range LiDAR technology into its full stack Automated Driving Platform, and is industrializing the technology for a planned start of volume production in 2024.
“The high-performance LiDAR technology, built on AEye’s 4Sight platform, enables key features for passenger and commercial vehicle applications by combining a high dynamic spatial resolution with long-range detection. The HRL131’s software-defined scan patterns can be fully customized to adapt to any customer requirements,” said the company.
AEye’s 4Sight™ M was named winner of the CES® 2022 Innovation Award, which is given for outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products. The 4Sight M was recognized for its unique use of adaptive sensing to garner industry-leading performance, and is built on the company’s award-winning 4Sight platform.
4Sight is a solid-state LiDAR that adapts through software, enabling it to tailor its output to application-specific requirements. Its industry-leading performance (extended range from 1cm to 1,000 meters), integrated intelligence, advanced vision capabilities (10-20x more accurate than camera-only systems), and unmatched reliability enable it to easily meet the diverse performance and functional requirements of autonomous and partially automated applications in markets including mobility, trucking, transit, construction, rail, intelligent traffic systems, and aerospace and defense, according to the company.
The company says that it is the first and only LiDAR solution whose performance has been independently verified by a reputable third-party testing organization, with active safety and automated vehicle technologies researcher VSI Labs confirming 4Sight M’s breakthrough range, resolution, and speed capabilities. 4Sight Intelligent Sensing Platform is configurable for every dynamic sensing application, from ADAS to smart cities, and more.
“Our adaptive LiDAR’s unique intelligence and software-configurability have driven critical improvements in performance, vision capabilities, and reliability that were designed to advance vehicle perception and benefit the entire industry. Our system is aimed at solving today’s toughest corner cases, but also provide OEMs a pathway, through software, for the future – with the ability to add features and improve performance over time. This type of flexibility will be a requirement for the systems of tomorrow,” said Luis Dussan, founder and Chief Technology Officer, AEye Inc in a media release.
AEye’s focus since the company was formed in 2013 is on the fact that the automotive industry required a LiDAR sensor with ultra-long range, small obstacle detection at highway speeds as well as a wide field of view for highly complex, low speed environments such as traffic jams. It has pitched its 4Sight Intelligent Sensing Platform as the automotive sector’s only cost-effective, customizable adaptive sensor solution with the ability to optimize for various driving conditions and use cases. The company says that its software-configurable architecture allows 4Sight to deliver proven industry-leading, high-performance data that meets the needs of the automotive OEM customers. This single sensor platform can be updated over time allowing OEM customers to future-proof their autonomous development without any hardware changes.
“We have raised the bar on what’s possible with LiDAR, and are delighted to be honoured as a CES Innovation Awards winner,” said Blair LaCorte, CEO of AEye in a press release. “By moving the complexity from the hardware to the software, “By moving the complexity from the hardware to the software, we have created a LiDAR solution that is uniquely intelligent, using AI-driven software to ‘steer’ the LiDAR in real-time to what matters, for the delivery of fast, accurate, and reliable data. Not only that, products built on AEye’s 4Sight platform are software-driven, making them future-proof. Our 4Sight LiDAR not only enables new, advanced sensing capabilities today, it’s able to evolve to meet our customers’ changing requirements and technology needs over time. That’s revolutionary.”
AEye is partnered with leading Tier 1s—such as Continental, Hella, and Aisin—and system integrators—to configure and manufacture the sensor at scale to meet the diverse performance and functional requirements of autonomous and partially automated applications. For automotive applications, AEye’s business model utilizes the existing automotive supply chain to build and manufacture its system at scale for automotive OEMs. AEye has partnered with automotive-grade Tier 2s and Tier 1s to deliver best-fit ADAS solutions with high reliability and low cost.
Automotive Industries caught up with Jordan Greene, Co-founder and GM of Automotive and VP of Corporate Development, AEye, Inc.
AI: How does AEye work with automotive manufacturers?
JG: AEye provides the reference architecture, an automotive-grade supply chain and support for Tier 1 partners from design throughout the entire OEM customer program. The Tier 1s in turn act as the system integrators, assuming the responsibility of manufacturing, assembly, qualification and integration. AEye then leverages volumes from these Tier 1 deployments to achieve economies of scale and deliver solutions to the Industrial and Mobility markets directly and through systems integrators. Because AEye uses a single product platform with the same components across markets, its contract manufacturer and system integrator partners are able to customize the platform to meet the unique needs of various markets, from trucking and mining, to ITS and beyond.
AI: What makes your LiDAR systems superior to others?
JG: Other LiDAR systems are passive, lack intelligence, and do not take into account how conditions evolve or know how to balance competing priorities, causing them to respond poorly to complex or dangerous situations. AEye’s 4Sight is the foundation to foresee what is coming. 4Sight’s intelligence is enabled by our patented bi-static architecture, which keeps the transmit and receive channels separate, allowing it to optimize for both. As each laser pulse is transmitted, the receiver is told where and when to look for its return—enabling deterministic artificial intelligence to be introduced into the sensing process at the point of acquisition.
AI: Which makes it as intuitive as the human eye?
JG: Yes – because ultimately our software allows 4Sight to focus on what matters most in all environments and weather conditions. The result mimics how the human visual cortex conceptually focuses on and evaluates the environment around the vehicle, driving conditions, and road hazards. With active targeting and intelligence in the data collection process, the adaptive 4Sight platform can increase and place resolution where needed throughout a scene, radically improving the probability of detection and the accuracy of classification. Built on a modular architecture, the 4Sight platform is designed to evolve as technology and requirements change over time, providing high-performance, cost-effective, software-configurable solutions that can be optimized for any dynamic sensing application.
AI: Getting the best LiDAR technology for the automotive sector is a mission for the company?
JG: Luis Dussan (the founder of AEye) knew that LiDAR needed to enable functionality that cameras and radar could not – such as tracking small objects and lateral entries in fast moving and dynamic environments. By putting intelligent software on the sensor, he created a system that substantially increases situational awareness and the probability of detection, while reducing false positives without impacting size, weight, power, or cost. It is the first LiDAR platform that is adaptable through software to meet the specific needs of OEM customers.