MUNICH, Germany–Audi AG’s self-driving unit has chosen a lidar startup to partner with as it ramps up testing in Munich using a fleet of autonomous electric e-tron crossover vehicles.
Audi subsidiary Autonomous Intelligent Driving, or AID, said Wednesday it’s using lidar sensors by Aeva, founded two years ago by veterans of Apple and Nikon.
Lidar, or light detection and ranging radar, measures distance. It’s considered by many (with Tesla as one exception) in the emerging automated driving industry as a critical and necessary sensor. And for years, that industry has been dominated by Velodyne. Lidar must work in conjunction with intelligent braking systems to control the vehicle.
Aeva, Mountain View, Calif., started by Soroush Salehian and Mina Rezk, developed what it describes as “4D lidar” that can measure distance as well as instant velocity without losing range, all while preventing interference from the sun or other sensors.
Dozens of lidar startups that have popped up to challenge category leader Velodyne with promises of lower-cost sensors with better resolution and accuracy than Velodyne.
Traditional lidar sensors are able to determine distance by sending out high-power pulses of light outside the visible spectrum and then tracking how long it takes for each of those pulses to return. As they come back, the direction of, and distance to, whatever those pulses hit are recorded as a point and eventually forms a 3D map.
But Aeva’s sensors emit a continuous low-power laser, which allows them to sense instant velocity of every point in the frame at ranges up to 300 meters, the company says in its sales material. Aeva’s sensors can determine distance and direction, as well as speed of the objects coming to or moving away from them.