Aeva, a lidar developer for autonomous cars, recently announced a partnership with Audi’s Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) unit, which will be using Aeva’s lidar sensor on its “e-tron” development fleet vehicles in Munich, Germany.
Founded in 2016, co-founders Mina Rezk and Soroush Salehian set out to build what they call the “4D lidar” to provide a more efficient and low-cost technology than conventional time-of-flight lidar.
Developed from the ground up using proprietary hardware and software, Aeva’s 4D lidar works similarly to what we’ve seen from Blackmore’s doppler lidar. As opposed to traditional lidar systems, which shoot lasers intermittently and wait for them to return to measure their intensity, the company’s solution “uses the spectrum of invisible light to measure the environment but operates similar in principle to the way Radar uses radio frequency to measure its surroundings,” said Rezk in a Medium article. “The spectrum of light is continuously embedded with a unique signature in multiple dimensions and then sent out to the environment, mapping the scene as the light bounces off of objects. A portion of this light is then captured with our optics, and its characteristics are compared with the outgoing beam to measure the range, velocity, and reflectivity of those objects”.
As a result, Aeva’s solution can simultaneously measure instantaneous velocity, depth and reflectivity for every point in the scene; measure low reflective targets beyond a 200m range; perform multiple measurements in the air without compromising range performance; and, by design, it is immune to interference from other sensors and sunlight.
Last year, the company received a $45M in a Series A Round led by Lux Capital and Canaan Partners, and Salehian said they were “excited to share we’ve partnered with and are already shipping our product to select major OEMs”. In April 2019, the company revealed one of the OEMs they are currently working with: Audi.
With a plan to spend almost $16 billion on electric, mobility and autonomous solutions between now and 2023, Audi wants to launch a robo-taxi service by 2021. Audi’s subsidiary AID unit is working on the development of a level 4 autonomous car, meaning the vehicle can completely drive itself with specified areas.
“We have been scouting multiple technologies over the years, and we have found out that the 4D lidar from Aeva is key to help us achieve our goals”, said Alexandre Haag, CTO at AID. “This enhances our perception, and fundamentally strengthens our safety cases for self-driving cars.”
Although there’s no information as to what Aeva’s 4D lidar will cost, Rezk told Reuters “the lower power requirements mean Aeva can make its sensors in the same factories as traditional semiconductors, which will help lower the cost of the units in the future”.