Continental takes stake in US LiDAR tech firm

Continental takes stake in US LiDAR tech firm

German automotive parts manufacturer Continental has acquired a minority stake in US-based start-up AEye Inc., a developer of vision solutions for autonomous vehicles using light detection and ranging technology (LiDAR). Early on in March, Continental also took up an investment in Munich-based LiDAR start-up Blickfeld.

Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, sensors are among the key technologies for automated driving, besides the camera and radar, according to Continental. AEye has created a long-range LiDAR solution combining amplifiable 1550 nm laser and patented feedback-controlled microelectromechanical system scanner, which allows the detection of vehicles at a distance of more than 300 m and pedestrians at a distance of more than 200 m.

The technology can also detect small, low-reflective objects, such as bricks, at a distance of 160 m with multiple measuring points. It can also be configured using software, which allows optimization for vehicle and application manufacturers.

Continental said it will use this LiDAR technology and industrialise the sensor to deliver an automotive-grade product. The first series production is scheduled for the end of 2024.

The company also said the investment strengthens its LiDAR portfolio. It said AEye’s sensor complements its existing short-range 3D Flash LiDAR technology, which will go into series production later in 2020.

“This puts us in a strong position to cover the full vehicle environment with state-of-the-art LiDAR sensor technology and to facilitate automated driving at SAE levels 3 or higher in both passenger cars and commercial vehicle applications,” said Frank Petznick, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit at the German company.