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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 2 - 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: 2021-06-01 to 2022-05-31

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:

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.
Eye safety has been considered. An optical and electrical design has been developed and eye-safety requirements (Laser class 1) have been considered.
Automotive use cases have been selected and automotive test campaigns have been executed to validate the developed LiDAR technology platform from hardware and software side.
Demonstrators have been built which allow for a surround view test setup.
We conducted test drives to prove the surround view concept with the demonstrators we developed in this project.
The pre-assembly line had to be redeveloped for the automotive LiDAR. A subdivision into pre-assembly and assembly has been made.

WP2:

The development of embedded software to generate scan pattern (aligned laser pulsing and Mirror steering) has been completed.
The development of the embedded software to generate scan patterns has been completed. The laser pulsing and mirror steering have been aligned. In addition, the embedded software has been optimized towards the surround view LiDAR (sync of different sensors).
In addition, we optimized mechanisms to handle shock and vibrations in combination with eye-safety mechanisms.
We configured FPGA and analogue circuits with embedded software. The whole FPGA hardware has been designed.
A system test has been developed. The system test comprises a fully automated testbench for firmware integration and verification test.
A product development process has been developed. The product development process includes a software development process and a firmware release process. The software development process is agile and describes all necessary steps to develop and test software. The final software testing and firmware release is covered in the firmware release process.
The implemented processes are the basis for the intended automotive SPICE and ISO 26262 (functional safety) qualification.

WP3:

An analysis of the needed certifications and qualifications of the Blickfeld technology has been conducted: CE, CCC, FCC, product safety, EMV, eye-safety.
CE, FDA, and FCC certifications have been requested for the standalone sensor unit and CCC certification requirements have been evaluated. Declarations of conformity have been drawn up where applicable, based on test reports from accredited laboratories.
We developed an IP strategy including a thorough patent clearing on the basis of the EC Guide to IP Rules to avoid potential conflicts concerning property rights and to secure FTO at the earliest possible time.
Blickfeld has constantly monitored the evolving legislative and standards landscape. A new laser safety standard in the IEC 60825 series specific to LiDAR systems will be released soon.

WP4:

A competitor- and market analysis have been conducted based on which a business strategy could be developed.
We integrated the automotive LiDAR into the product portfolio on Blickfeld´s homepage.
In addition, we created a product flyer for automotive LiDAR sensor.
The major commercialization measures were direct sales approach to regular customers, product website, preparation and dissemination of flyers, attendance at fairs and conferences, joint projects with international OEMs/ Tier 1s (still ongoing), extensive field tests and setting up a social media strategy.
In total, Blickfeld attended 15 fairs and conferences. In the automotive context Blickfeld attended CES, AutoSens and Move in 2022. In addition, contacts with prospects have been established.
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.
surround view / Blickferld's test setup
surround view / point cloud
surround view / test drive