Editorial Feature

Aeva & ZF's Commercially Viable FMCW LiDAR Sensors for Autonomous Cars

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California-based Aeva has struck a new partnership with global automotive manufacturer ZF to develop the world’s first Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) LiDAR sensors.

The partnership will capitalize on ZF’s position as a top global Tier-1 supplier, and Aeva’s state-of-the-art FMCW LiDAR sensors, bringing next-generation sensing and perception systems to the automotive industry. The partnership will accelerate the wide-scale production of 4D LiDAR technology for use in self-driving vehicles.

A Future of Self-Driving Cars

Recent years have seen increasing excitement over predictions that self-driving cars will dominate our roads in the near future. In 2016, it was predicted that there would be 10 million self-driving cars already on the road by 2020. However, while leading automotive manufacturers have made great strides towards getting fully autonomous vehicles on our roads, the industry predictions have yet to be realized.

To create a future where we can benefit from reduced congestion, greater safety, reduced emissions, and increased productivity promised by the establishment self-driving vehicles, it is vital that the technology required to make this a reality continues to show significant advancements.

Self-driving vehicles rely heavily on accurate and reliable sensors that relay a wealth of data in real-time. This data is analyzed to allow the vehicle to understand how other cars are moving, recognize safety hazards, predict the driving activity of surrounding vehicles, recognize the road ahead and make minor corrective adjustments to the steering.

Aeva’s partnership with ZF will create next-generation FMCW LiDAR-on-chip sensors that are considered to be essential for the advancement of autonomous vehicles, helping to make self-driving cars a reality.

Advanced LiDAR Technology

LiDAR sensor technology uses laser light to measure distances between the car and other objects and to build a 3D image of the road ahead. The development of reliable sensors that are suitable for mass production has been challenging. The cost has been a significant factor, with the development of LiDAR sensors often being too expensive for mass production. Accuracy and reliability have also been huge considerations, as the sensors need to be incredibly accurate to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers.

Aeva and ZF’s innovative FMCW LiDAR sensor project will enable more accurate speed calculations of other objects on the road. It will also help to distinguish between stationary objects and moving ones more precisely. These are features that will be invaluable to the future of autonomous driving.

Aeva’s FMCW LiDAR-on-chip technology brings together long-range performance and direct velocity measurements that are crucial for the functioning of the virtual driver software.

Other LiDAR technologies have not been able to accurately and reliably measure the instant velocity of any given point of an object further than 300 m from the sensor. Aeva’s Lidar accurately takes these measurements of far-distance objects, successfully collecting data from millions of points per second and demonstrating its status as an advanced driving technology.

Find out more: LiDAR equipment on the market today

Aeva’s LiDAR technology does not suffer from interference from sunlight or other sensors, increasing their safety and reliability. The sensors also use a fraction of the optical power typically required to power these types of sensors and to achieve long-range performance. These features maximize sensor safety and make them more suitable for mass production.

The partnership will see Aeva take responsibility for the functionality of the sensors, as well as their performance and the algorithms that they utilize. ZF, on the other hand, will be responsible for producing “automotive-grade” sensors that carmaker needs.

Sensors to be Ready by 2023 at the Earliest

The sensors are expected to be ready by 2023 or 2024.

While autonomous vehicles were predicted to have already arrived on the scene, it is now visible that companies involved in the industry are making clear plans to make this a reality in the coming years.

Aeva has yet to announce any potential customers of their technology. However, Porsche SE, a major shareholder of the Volkswagen Group, has recently invested a significant amount of funds into the company. Experts believe the 4D LiDAR on-a-chip technology is the best solution on the market and will play a vital role in taking autonomous driving to the next step.

We can expect self-driving cars to emerge in the near future, with Aeva’s sensors being incorporated into the myriad of technologies that will also likely facilitate the use of clean energy, giving birth to a new era of vehicles.

References and Further Reading

10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/report-10-million-self-driving-cars-will-be-on-the-road-by-2020-2015-5-6

Aeva and ZF Bring First FMCW LiDAR to Automotive Production. Business Wire. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200908005368/en/Aeva-ZF-Bring-FMCW-LiDAR-Automotive-Production

Aeva partners with auto supplier ZF to produce key self-driving sensors. Stephen Nellis. Reuters. https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-aeva-zf-friedrich-idUKKBN25Z2LO

Aeva Reveals First 4D LiDAR on Chip for Autonomous Driving and Vote of Confidence from VW Group with Porsche SE Investment. Business Wire. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191211005284/en/Aeva-Reveals-4D-LiDAR-Chip-Autonomous-Driving

What Does the Future Hold for Self-Driving Cars? Keith Noonan. The Motely Fool. https://www.fool.com/investing/what-does-the-future-hold-for-self-driving-cars.aspx

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Sarah Moore

Written by

Sarah Moore

After studying Psychology and then Neuroscience, Sarah quickly found her enjoyment for researching and writing research papers; turning to a passion to connect ideas with people through writing.

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