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Osram and GaN Systems introduce ultrafast laser driver with high-power, multi-channel for LiDAR

Osram Opto Semiconductors, a leading optoelectronics company and global leader in automotive lighting, announced an ultrafast laser driver with a high-power, multi-channel Surface Mount (SMT) laser for LiDAR (Light detection and ranging) systems. Osram and GaN Systems, the leader in GaN power semiconductors, partnered to develop the breakthrough in laser driver technology that enables longer range and higher resolution LiDAR architectures.

Osram has continuously expanded its laser portfolio for LiDAR to accommodate the needs of customers, including increasing the peak power of the SPL DS90A_3 to 120 W at 40 A. In addition, Osram plans to release a four-channel SMT laser in 2019. The additional channels increase the field of view and total peak power, with each channel being capable of generating 120 W.

One of the issues with LiDAR technology has been its inability to transmit lasers at short pulses, while maintaining high peak power, which is necessary to ensure that the LiDAR is eye safe with a long range and high resolution.

To address this need, Osram worked with GaN Systems to develop a laser driver with a one nanosecond pulse rise time, while driving all four channels at 40 A each to deliver 480 W peak power. This peak power then can be modulated at low-duty cycles to produce high resolution 3D cloud points at long range for new LiDAR designs.

Operating at the elevated current levels and nanosecond rise times necessary for long-distance LiDAR requires the high power, high frequency and robust thermal performance that are the hallmarks of GaN Systems’ products. It is great to see the industry recognize these performance attributes and leverage them for its systems.

—Jim Witham, CEO of GaN Systems

Scanning LiDAR is a key technology for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to increase road safety and enable autonomous driving. Scanning LiDAR creates high-resolution 3D images of a car’s surroundings and registers obstacles early enough for ADAS or self-driving cars to initiate the appropriate driving maneuvers, such as automatic braking to prevent collisions.

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