Aeva, a company building next-generation sensing for autonomous vehicles (earlier post), and ZF are partnering to bring the first Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) LiDAR to market for autonomous driving applications. (Earlier post.)
The partnership, combining Aeva’s expertise in FMCW LiDAR technology with ZF’s experience in industrialization of automotive grade sensors, represents a key commitment to accelerate mass production of safe and scalable 4D LiDAR technology for autonomous driving applications.
From early on we have believed in building an ecosystem of the world’s most capable partners across the industry and this partnership is one part of that plan. ZF’s capability as one of the largest Tier-1s globally with expertise in automotive scale production of sensing systems is a key step to accelerating the introduction of safe and scalable autonomous vehicles. The industry is at the cusp of deploying the next generation of sensing to realize the adoption of highly automated and autonomous cars and we believe Aeva’s 4D LiDAR will be an indispensable part of this next chapter.—Soroush Salehian, Co-Founder of Aeva
The partnership strengthens the parties’ collaboration by leveraging Aeva’s unique expertise in FMCW LiDAR and perception technology together with ZF’s expertise as a leading automotive supplier, autonomous systems provider, and market leader in smart cameras and the corresponding production know-how.
The final system is targeted as a key solution for autonomous driving applications including established truck and OEM manufacturers as well as leading mobility as a service customers.
LiDAR is a key technology for systems and sensing in the area of highly automated and autonomous driving. Aeva’s unique FMCW technology combines long range performance and direct velocity measurements, making it the right choice for autonomous driving applications. We have seen that different markets require different solutions. For L2+/L3 systems a package and cost optimized Lidar is crucial. For applications which feature L4 and further solutions, the focus lies on range and direct velocity measurement, as edge performance is key for the virtual driver software stack.
Aeva’s FMCW technology approach perfectly meets all the stringent requirements for autonomous operations in trucks and robo-service vehicles. We look forward to bring the world’s first FMCW LiDAR to an automotive grade level and scale production, where ZF can rely on a long-lasting production experience in optical sensors. ‘Automotive Grade’ will become a quality seal, necessary for a solid business model of all autonomous vehicle software stack providers.—Torsten Gollewski, Executive Vice President Autonomous Mobility Solutions at ZF
As part of the partnership, Aeva will be responsible for the FMCW LiDAR core sensing functionality, performance and algorithms and ZF will be responsible for industrialization of the automotive grade sensing system that meets all automotive requirements.
Unlike other LiDAR technologies, Aeva’s 4D LiDAR-on-chip uses a continuous laser beam to measure the change in frequency of the waveform as it reflects off of an object. This allows it to detect an object’s range and instant velocity simultaneously beyond 300 meters at high accuracy.
Aeva’s 4D LiDAR is also completely free of interference from other sensors or sunlight and it operates at only fractions of the optical power typically required to achieve long range performance. All of which are critical hurdles that have previously slowed the broad adoption of automotive LiDAR.
Aeva’s technology also differs from other FMCW approaches in its unique ability to break the dependency between maximum range and points density. Aeva’s 4D LiDAR integrates multiple beams on a chip that is produced at silicon wafer scale. Each beam is uniquely capable of measuring multiple millions of points per second at maximum range providing unprecedented data fidelity and significantly enhancing the factor of safety for self-driving cars.
Aeva was founded in 2017 by Soroush Salehian and Mina Rezk—previously engineering leaders at Apple & Nikon. Aeva is backed by Volkswagen’s Porsche SE, Lux Capital and Canaan Partners, among others.