BMW Will Use Solid-State Lidar From Innoviz

It's the first publicly acknowledged deal between a major car company and a solid-state lidar firm

2 min read
Still image from Innoviz showing Innoviz LiDAR Based SLAM.
Image: Innoviz

Israel-based Innoviz has announced that it will supply solid-state lidar to BMW. The device, along with radar and other systems, will be incorporated into a self-driving package from Magna, a major autosupplier.

Innoviz says that when volume production begins, the lidar’s price should drop to the hundreds of dollars, down from the “single-digit thousands” that today’s test units go for. The company says that it can now make several thousand units a month on its existing assembly line, in Israel, and that it’s building another line in China.

The company argues that today’s deal with BMW vindicates the solid-state approach to lidar, in which the laser beam is steered without machinery. Innoviz does the trick with microscopic, moveable mirrors. Most recent lidar startups also use solid-state approaches.


But Velodyne, the industry leader, rotates its lasers on a roof-mounted tower, and the startup Luminar uses a macroscopic mirror to sweep its beam around. Luminar recently announced the start of mass production, with some of its units going to Toyota’s self-driving research team, and the rest to other, yet-unnamed auto makers.

Image of Innoviz's LiDARImage: Innoviz

In its release, Innoviz said only that its current test unit offers “unrivaled angular resolution at the highest frame rate of any LiDAR solution currently on the market.” But earlier this year, a company spokesman told IEEE Spectrum that its test units had a frame rate of 20 frames per second, an angular resolution of 0.15 by 0.3 degrees, a detection range of up to 150 meters, and a field of view of 73 by 20 degrees.

By contrast, Luminar says its mechanical system can vary the frame rate from as slow as one per second, for high resolution, to as fast as 20 per second, in exchange for lower resolution. It says its lidar can detect objects 250 meters ahead. Velodyne claims a 300-meter range for its top-of-the-line system.

It’s hard to say which design will win, though. Different self-driving packages give different weights to the various sensors; one might rely on radar rather than lidar to cover the longer distances. Of course, another very important factor is that of cost. And solid-state systems generally cost the least.

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Chinese Joint Venture Will Begin Mass-Producing an Autonomous Electric Car

With the Robo-01, Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely aim for a fully self-driving car

4 min read
A black car sits against a white backdrop decorated with Chinese writing. The car’s doors are open, like a butterfly’s wings. Two charging stations are on the car’s left; two men stand on the right.

The Robo-01 autonomous electric car shows off its butterfly doors at a reveal to the media in Beijing, in June 2022.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters/Alamy
Purple

In October, a startup called Jidu Automotive, backed by Chinese AI giant Baidu and Chinese carmaker Geely, officially released an autonomous electric car, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition. In 2023, the car will go on sale.

At roughly US $55,000, the Robo-01 Lunar Edition is a limited edition, cobranded with China’s Lunar Exploration Project. It has two lidars, a 5-millimeter-wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 12 high-definition cameras. It is the first vehicle to offer on-board, AI-assisted voice recognition, with voice response speeds within 700 milliseconds, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8295 chip.

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