Long range LiDAR based on FMCW for autonomous vehicles introduced at CES 2019

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New LiDAR technology development, by US-based Insight LiDAR, showcased at CES 2019. The company presented Digital Coherent LiDAR, a chip-scale, long range LiDAR sensor based on Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) to target the emerging autonomous vehicle market.

FMCW radar radiates continuous transmission power and can change its operating frequency during the measurement. The technology has stronger sensing capability in comparison with ToF and is suitable for long distance detection. Insight’s Digital Coherent LiDAR was developed based on more sensitive FMCW detection techniques and software-programmable waveforms that have been used in FMCW radar.

Insight LiDAR’s FMCW sensor offers 10-100x higher sensitivity than Time-of-Flight LiDAR while simultaneously offering direct Doppler velocity measurement. The higher sensitivity, enabled by FMCW detection, drives Digital Coherent LiDAR’s long-range capability; 200 m to dim (<10 percent reflectivity) objects like car tires, and 250 m or more to vehicle bodies, trees and other obstacles.

Direct Doppler velocity measurement enables faster recognition and classification of objects, especially critical for safe level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicle operation. Digital Coherent LiDAR is further enhanced by Insight’s proprietary true solid-state, fast-axis scan architecture. This unique feature enables Insight LiDAR to both precisely steer the beam and encrypt the critical fast-scan axis through software alone, with no moving parts.

“LiDAR designers have long known the advantages of FMCW detection, but the critical laser sources have been large and expensive,” commented Dr. Chris Wood, head of Insight LiDAR’s development and technology. “Over the past ten years, we’ve developed and refined unique, patented methods to manufacture and control the laser sources driving world-class performance in a tiny chip-scale package.”

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