LiDAR Market to Experience Growth as New High-Resolution LiDAR Chip Invented

Posted On April 20, 2022     

Google presented its first self-driving cars in 2010. Then the spinning cylinder affixed to the roofs had drawn a lot of attention. The vehicle's LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging System) functioned in the same way as light-based radar that was the focus of attention. LiDAR, in conjunction with cameras and radar, mapped the area to assist these automobiles in avoiding impediments and driving safely. Since then, low-cost, chip-based cameras and radar systems for collision avoidance and autonomous highway driving have entered the mainstream. Nonetheless, LiDAR navigation systems are cumbersome mechanical instruments that cost thousands.

That may change due to the development of a new type of high-resolution LiDAR chip. the technology is based on a focal plane switch array (FPSA). This is a semiconductor-based matrix of antennas that gathers light as digital camera sensors do. Its resolution of 16,384 pixels may not sound spectacular when compared to the millions of pixels seen on a smartphone camera. However, it far outnumbers the 512 pixels or less found on FPSAs till recently. The unveiled technology may boost the LiDAR Market as it suggests solutions to the setbacks involved in the market.

Moreover, the concept is scalable to megapixel sizes utilising the same CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) technology used in computer processors. This might pave the way for a new generation of robust, low-cost 3-D sensors for self-driving cars, drones, robots, and even smartphones.

The team's aim was to light up a broad region. However, the light becomes too faint to travel a significant distance if this is done. As a design trade-off to maintain light intensity, we reduce the areas that our laser light illuminates. That is where the FPSA enters the picture. It is made up of a matrix of tiny optical transmitters, or antennae, and switches that turn them on and off quickly. This allows it to direct all available laser power through a single antenna at the same time.

Researchers also need to extend the system's range, which is currently at 10 metres. They are confident we can reach 100 metres and feel we can reach 300 metres with continued progress. If this succeeds, standard CMOS production technology promises to make low-cost chip-sized LiDAR a reality in the future.

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