Luminar’s LiDAR is Tested by Tesla?
Author： Neuvition, IncRelease time：2021-06-03 01:21:05
1. Tesla Is Testing Luminar’s LiDAR?
A Tesla Model Y was photographed in Florida sporting rooftop LiDAR sensors made by a LiDAR manufacturer- Luminar. The sighting caused a bit of a stir among Tesla watchers. According to Bloomberg, Tesla has signed a contract with Luminar to use Luminar’s LiDAR technology for test development. As part of the agreement, Luminar will sell LiDAR which is used on Model Y to Tesla.
Although Elon Musk himself has repeatedly criticized LiDAR and even bluntly stated that he will never use LiDAR, this time Tesla is testing Luminar’s LiDAR, does this mean Tesla also had to compromise with the reality that LiDAR is irreplaceable in hardware for autonomous driving with a substantial reduction in the cost of LiDAR today?
In the field of autonomous driving, visual sensors and LiDAR sensors are generally used. However, the auto industry has recognized that the future fully autonomous driving solution must use LiDAR, that’s why a lot of automakers are trying to install Luminar’s LiDAR. But on the contrary, Tesla has previously given up using LiDAR because of cost issues.
Take the new Tesla cars currently on sale as an example. All cars are equipped with at least 8 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 1 enhanced millimeter-wave radar. Among them, 8 cameras can provide a 360-degree field of view, and the farthest detection distance at the front is close to 200 meters.
However, the combination of Tesla visual camera + millimeter-wave radar has inherent drawbacks: it poor performance in high-speed static object recognition and low-light environments. When Tesla’s AI neural network and algorithm have not yet reached the “complete body”, the rash release of high-end autopilot functions may also lead to an increase in self-driving accidents.
When the LiDAR with a high recognition rate is integrated with the visual recognition of the camera, undoubtedly, the perception ability of autonomous vehicles will be dramatically improved. It is completely possible to avoid imperfections from the conclusions based only on visual perception. It is really a must-have artifact for autonomous driving.
2. Luminar’s LiDAR Technology Route: MEMS+ 1550nm
As one of the pioneers in the LiDAR industry, Luminar’s LiDAR is a semi-solid MEMS LiDAR with 2D scanning mode, using 1550nm fiber laser as the light source, and InGaAs APD as the detector. Compared with conventional LiDAR, the 1550nm light source is harmless to human eyes and can be used at high power. The resolution of Luminar LiDAR can reach more than 300 lines, and the detection distance can reach 500 meters. Therefore, Luminar’s LiDAR can fully meet the low-cost, reliable, and mass-produceable car-mounted demand.
It is precisely because of such beyond-the- expected product performance that Tesla, which has just cancelled the millimeter wave radar and announced that it has adopted the pure visual route, also had to start testing Luminar’s LiDAR!
2.1 Why solid-state MEMS?
At present, there are Huawei, DJI, and other start-up companies on the solid-state LiDAR track. Compared with mechanical LiDAR, more and more LiDAR technology companies are focusing on MEMS LiDAR technology. Luminar is the world leader in 1550 nanometer solid-state LiDAR. Luminar’s LiDAR has reduced the price from tens of thousands of dollars to the range of 500-1000 dollars! Remember, solid-state LiDAR is the direction, and the current mechanical rotating LiDAR will be replaced by solid-state LiDAR soon. Luminar chose solid-state MEMS LiDAR from the beginning, intending to reduce LiDAR costs. Solid-state LiDAR is smaller, more efficient, and less costly than traditional mechanical rotating LiDAR, which will be eliminated sooner or later in the automotive field.
“Solid-state” will be the main theme of the development of automotive LiDAR, and solid-state MEMS LiDAR technology will become important technical routes.
The core beam control element of MEMS LiDAR is a micro galvanometer, which reduces the number of lasers and detectors, relatively reduces costs, and can achieve a more balanced comprehensive performance.
2.2 Why 1550nm?
Luminar’s LiDAR has 1550nm laser which is 40 times the laser pulse intensity of the 905nm laser in the use of traditional automobiles. The superpower expands the detection range of the long-wave LiDAR by 10 times and increases the resolution by 50 times. The expanded detection range is of great significance for a high-speed driving car, because a car traveling at a speed of 75 miles per hour can move up to 34 meters in one second.
The 1550nm-wavelength LiDAR can increase the power, and the additional software module can filter the point cloud data detected by the LiDAR and evaluate the scanning reliability to ensure the normal operation of the vehicle in the rain, snow, and fog.
The 1550nm LiDAR has a field of view of 30m in a dense fog, while the 905nm LiDAR sensor cannot work in dense fog at all. The 1550nm LiDAR is the only sensor that can help vehicles make correct steering operations in dense fog. This is also Luminar’s main attack direction.
The difference in laser safety regulations stems from the difference in hazards caused by these two wavelength lasers. The most vulnerable part of the human body to laser beam damage is the retina behind the human eye. The retina does not respond to the 905nm infrared laser used by the current automotive LiDAR, so we cannot see the laser light emitted by the LiDAR. However, the human eye will transmit the 905nm infrared laser to the retina, so it will be subject to the same legal restrictions as visible light. And this will bring greater harm because human eyes cannot instinctively avoid light sources that the retina does not respond to.
The inside of the human eye is transparent to the light of 905nm wavelength (blue arrow); therefore, LiDAR with 905nm wavelength can directly shine on the fragile retina. However, the human eye is opaque to light of 1550nm wavelength (red arrow). Therefore, the light of 1550nm wavelength cannot be projected onto the retina, so that higher-power LiDAR can be used without harming the human eye. LiDAR with 1550nm wavelength is safe for human eyes.
Neuvition’s solid-state HD vehicle LiDAR uses MEMS micro-galvanometer plus 1550nm laser technology, which improves reliability but cuts cost. Titan M1-Pro LiDAR has a high resolution of 480 lines, a FOV of 120 °, and an effective detection distance of 200 meters. The super performance and significant improvement in safety for autonomous driving make Titan M1-Pro the best solid-state vehicle LiDAR for self-driving cars.
Founded in 2016, Neuvition is the first professional manufacturer focusing on solid-state HD LiDAR based on the MEMS technology route. To bring better vision for smarter future, our LiDAR mainly provides smart solutions in the fields of autonomous driving, ADAS, V2X/CVIS, railway ADAS, 3D mapping, etc., to enable machines or vehicles to have perception capability and to accelerate the speed of automation processes.
Our technologies cover the world’s leading high-definition solid-state MEMS LiDAR, LiDAR data processing algorithm and software, AI, and machine learning in the application of LiDAR and other LiDAR-based software solutions. Neuvition is one of the leading companies to commercialize solid-state 3D HD video LiDARs for automated market needs with performance and parameters superior to other competitors.