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Highly scalable, small, and inexpensive high resolution 3D Light Detection and Ranging System (LiDAR) for the mass market of Automated and Autonomous Vehicles.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Automotive3DLiDAR (Highly scalable, small, and inexpensive high resolution 3D Light Detection and Ranging System (LiDAR) for the mass market of Automated and Autonomous Vehicles.)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-05-31

LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanner technology is essential for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and an enabler for autonomous cars. There is a strong and long-term market pull by car manufacturers who strive to bring autonomous cars to the market by 2023. In the next decades the number of increasingly autonomous vehicles will explode. LiDAR allows the real-time spatial perception of the car’s environment. Hence, there is an enormous market demand. However, currently no solid-state LiDAR conforms to the automotive regulations and is available at a competitive price.

The EC is planning stricter environmental regulations, amongst others the reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030; besides increasing security driver assistance systems, fuel efficiency, and reducing the environmental impact – and thus, overall costs for the driver. LiDAR contributes to customers savings and contributes to reaching the EC environmental goals.

The overall objectives of the novel LiDAR are bringing the highly scalable core technology to mass market by reducing costs from €10,000 to €400 – a cost reduction by the factor of 25. The core manufacturing technology building the basis for the reduced cost and paving the ground for mass production is a patented breakthrough micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) approach enabled by the miniaturization of the manufacturing technologies.
WP1: System integration and optimization for series production, and set-up of a pre-series assembly line

The MEMS mirror has been optimised and is capable of 20 Hz (system performance). The MEMS performance has been tested and validated in a continuous operation mode.
In addition, an optical and electrical design has been developed and eye-safety requirements (Laser class 1) have been considered.
We have completed the development of our non-linear observer- and ultra PSD-set up to improve accuracy and extend mass-production capabilities of Beam Deflection Units (MEMS + PCB).
Furthermore, design validation of the developed sensor has been performed including tests in a climate chamber and on a shaker.
First demonstrators have been built which allow for a surround view test setup, see images attached to this report.
We conducted test drives to prove the surround view concept with the demonstrators we developed in this project.

WP2: SoC embedded software development to automotive readiness following Automotive SPICE process

The development of embedded software to generate scan pattern (aligned laser pulsing and Mirror steering) has been completed.
We optimized our embedded software towards surround view Lidar (sync of different sensors).
In addition, we optimized mechanisms to handle shock and vibrations in combination with eye-safety mechanisms.
Deviation: The automotive SPICE process has not yet been followed. Reasoning: It has turned out that an automotive sensor will always be built individually for an automotive customer based on custom requirements. Blickfeld then will then build a variant based on the certified technology. For this variant, an adapted embedded software configuration needs to be built to be able to fulfil the unique requirements, i.e. interface towards the ECU. This development then will follow automotive SPICE processes. This is possible when Blickfeld is nominated for an automotive project with an OEM (and possibly another Tier1).

WP3: Certification, licensing, patent submission and IPR strategy

An analysis of the needed certifications and qualifications of the Blickfeld technology has been conducted: CE, CCC, FCC, product safety, EMV, eye-safety
Preparation and planning of certifications have been started, e.g. selection of certification bodies, quotation process, scheduling.

WP4: Communication, dissemination and exploitation, commercialisation

A competitor- and market analysis have been conducted on the basis of which a business strategy could be developed.
We integrated the automotive LiDAR into the product portfolio on Blickfeld´s homepage: https://www.blickfeld.com/products/vision-mini/
In addition, we created a product flyer for automotive LiDAR sensor.
Furthermore, we presented the automotive LiDAR sensor (prototypes) at digital CES 2021.

WP5: Project Management

Project planning has been concluded, administrative and technological management of the project is ongoing. No work package is delayed and the project develops according to the original work plan. A project- and risk management plan has been established (deliverable D5).
With the new product Blickfeld provides an enabling technology for autonomous cars based on the technological lead over existing products in combination with an unbeatable price serving the market pull from the automotive industry. Blickfeld strives for becoming the European market leader in the field automotive of LiDARs. With Blickfeld’s LiDAR technology accident can be avoided and road traffic becomes safer.

One result within this project is the innovative LiDAR surround view approach: Major competitors for surround view LiDARs provide mechanically spinning 360° Lidars. They have known disadvantages in regards of cost, reliability, size and design (“nobody wants that spinning thing on the roof of their car”). Hence, Blickfeld is helping to lower inhibitions about LiDAR technology and achieves a high level of customer acceptance. This contributes to an increase in traffic safety. Blickfeld’s surround view approach provides the possibility for car manufactures, to seamlessly integrate a surround view Lidar application into their vehicles without making sacrifices in design. This is possible because the single units of the LiDARs are extremely small and their point-cloud will be combined – this makes it possible to integrate the Blickfeld-LiDAR in the chassis (in contrast to normal 360° spinning Lidars which needs to be places prominently on top of the roof).

The expected results are the joint integration development of Lidar sensors for automotive vehicle surround view together with an OEM / Tier 1 in a next step.
surround view / Blickferld's test setup
surround view / point cloud
surround view / test drive