Over the past couple of years, Ouster has continued to advance lidar technology by launching new, improved, and affordable sensors for automotive, robotics, industrial automation, and smart infrastructure. To continue that trend, the company recently announced the ES2, a new low-cost, high-performance solid-state lidar sensor based on its digital lidar architecture.
As the Ouster’s first full solid-state digital lidar sensor, the ES2 leverages the digital lidar architecture from the OS series spinning sensors and was designed for automotive and industrial applications. Paired with a custom digital detector array capable of counting trillions of individual photons every second, the ES2 sensor uses “electronic scanning” to sequentially fire an array of over ten thousand lasers printed onto a single chip. According to Ouster, these laser and detector arrays are the same core technology used in the OS series, as well as in consumer devices such as the iPhone and iPad Pro.
“Where our mechanical sensors feature a one-dimensional column of lasers that are scanned across a scene, the solid-state ES2 features tens of thousands of lasers printed into a 2D grid, with each column of lasers firing sequentially in order to scan the environment. There are zero moving parts,” said Angus Pacala, CEO of Ouster.
To reach the range, field of view, and resolution targets of high-performance autonomy customers, Ouster fixed each one of the tens of thousands of lasers on a different point in the field of view. Featuring a maximum range of over 200 meters on a 10% reflective surface, an angular resolution of 0.1 degrees, and a compact size, the sensor easily integrates with ADAS, as well as smaller robotic systems that need long-range vision, and is rugged and durable to the highest standards for shock, vibration, and water ingress in heavy industries.
In early September 2020, Ouster hit the $140 million mark in funding after raising $42 million to fund product development and further accelerate worldwide sales. After launching its second generation of high-resolution lidar sensors in January, Ouster’s 12-month revenue has grown by 62%, with third-quarter bookings up 209% year over year.
“Ouster’s digital lidar architecture gives us fundamental advantages that are winning over customers in every market we serve. Digital CMOS technology is the future of lidar and Ouster was the first to invent, build, patent, and commercialize digital lidar. Once our customers experience the resolution and reliability of these sensors at an affordable price, there’s no turning back to legacy analog lidar,” Pacala mentioned.
With a $600 expected price for automotive production programs with SOP 2024, the ES2 samples will be available to key customers and partners in 2022, with volume production to commence in 2023.
“Releasing a true solid-state digital lidar sensor is the culmination of a plan Ouster embarked on 5 years ago to make life-improving lidar technology widely available at a $100 price point,” Pacala added. “The success of our OS line of spinning sensors has proven the many benefits of digital lidar technology and we are now confident in taking the next step with the ES2. The ES2 solid-state sensor is a game changer – a truly solid-state design that leverages standard CMOS manufacturing. This is how you build a solid-state lidar sensor that can disrupt the market.”