The LCA2 is reported to be the world’s first 3D SSL SoC (system-on-chip), with mass production expected to begin in the first half of 2019 for Tier-1 automotive companies using assisted and autonomous driving. The SoC is expected to be an economical solution for systems requiring LiDAR sensing, including autonomous vehicles, drones, industrial vehicles, and intelligent transport systems.
Leddar, the time-of-flight sensor technology behind the LCA2 and the namesake of the company, is a patented sensing technology that uses a unique signal processing method to reduce signal noise and increase sensitivity by lowering the detection threshold. This is achieved through sampling the received analog signal from the optical echo, expanding the sampling rate and resolution, and then analyzing this discrete-time signal to detect the distance of objects. This process also makes the sensors more adept at detection in varying visibility conditions, including rainy, snowy, or dusty environments. Such conditions tend to produce noisy signals in typical LiDAR systems.
The company also reports that Leddar has a higher range-to-power ratio compared to traditional systems, meaning that using the same amount of light it can detect objects that are further, or using less light, detect objects at the same range. The Leddar signal processing algorithms are part of the LeddarSP software library, and among the 58 patents owned by the company.
SSLs are expected to provide better and faster performance compared to traditional mechanical LiDAR. They're also touted to be a more economical choice since they are easier to manufacture with fewer moving parts involved. They are also smaller and lighter, expanding options for how they are used and mounted onto various systems, and make it possible for multiple sensors to economically be used at once.
One of the greatest challenges in deploying LiDAR en masse is the somewhat prohibitive costs, fragility, and size. For up-and-coming markets, like the autonomous vehicles industry, more affordable and robust options are important for growth and theoretically translate into making these vehicles more accessible for consumers.
The drawback with SSLs is that the field of view (FoV) is limited since it is not being mechanically rotated; however, since they cost less and are smaller, multiple SSLs can be used to provide a full 360° coverage.
Image courtesy of LeddarTech.