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How Lidwave Is Revolutionizing LiDAR with Scalable Single-Chip Technology

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Khushbu Raval
Khushbu Raval
Khushbu is a Senior Correspondent and a content strategist with a special foray into DataTech and MarTech. She has been a keen researcher in the tech domain and is responsible for strategizing the social media scripts to optimize the collateral creation process.

Lidwave’s innovative LiDAR technology is transforming key industries like transportation and smart cities, paving the way for a more affordable and accessible future for this powerful 4D sensing technology.

Lidwave is a frontrunner in 4D coherent LiDAR technology, a powerful tool for the future of mobility and smart cities. Their approach redefines scalability and performance by leveraging a new coherent light sensing technology and advances in silicon photonics to create a System-On-Chip LiDAR.

This innovative design overcomes the limitations of traditional systems, delivering superior performance at scale and lower cost. In an exclusive interview, Yossi Kabessa, Lidwave‘s CTO, offers insights into their technology’s potential. He discusses how Lidwave addresses data speed extraction challenges and explores its applications. Dr. Kabessa also shares Lidwave’s roadmap, highlighting advancements that will shape the future of LiDAR technology.

Excerpts from the interview;

Can you share Lidwave’s approach to innovation in LiDAR technology and its unique capabilities that differentiate the company in a competitive landscape?

When we founded Lidwave, we identified scalability as the primary challenge in the LiDAR market. Traditional solutions often relied on a ‘brute-force’ method for improving LiDAR systems’ performance. This includes adding more lasers and sensitive receivers, which complicates production and increases costs. We decided to invert the approach, asking instead: ‘What technology enables scalable LiDAR?’ We developed an innovative technology that realizes LiDAR on a single chip. Our solution significantly reduces complexity and cost while delivering performance that meets and exceeds market expectations. 

LiDAR technology has seen significant advancements. How is Lidwave transforming key industries, and what unique capabilities does its technology offer?

LiDAR technology has made great progress in the last decade, going from exotic and delicate 6-figures systems to much more reliable and robust systems. Today, one can get a long-range (~200m), high-resolution (~1.5 million points per second) system for thousands of dollars. But that’s not enough; for LiDARs to become a staple sensor – in automotive, robotics, and other fields – the price must be significantly reduced. With the right price point, LiDARs can improve the safety of passenger cars, make autonomous trucks a more viable business, allow for better smart infrastructure, and much more.

LiDAR systems generate vast amounts of data. How does Lidwave address the challenges of extracting actionable insights for its customers?

Our FCR technology, being a coherent sensing system, excels in measuring instantaneous velocity per pixel. This feature simplifies object segmentation significantly, as real-world objects vary in speed. Object classification becomes more straightforward with high-resolution data (up to 5 million points per second from our Odem model). We’re collaborating with perception software companies for whom the velocity raw data is a game changer to develop comprehensive solutions for various applications ranging from smart infrastructure to crowd monitoring and autonomous shuttles.

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LiDAR technology is often associated with transportation. Could you elaborate on Lidwave’s contributions to developing advanced transportation systems and its role in shaping the future of mobility?

Most companies and people working on developing ADAS and autonomous systems agree that LiDARs will play a crucial part in the future of those systems that currently use cameras and RADARs. Cameras are scalable and affordable; they manifest excellent resolution but lack depth or velocity measurement capabilities. RADARs have excellent all-weather capabilities and can measure distance and velocity, but they inherently have inferior resolution and struggle with the low signature of pedestrians compared to cars. However, for LiDARs to take their place in the industry, some performance issues must be solved, namely sensitivity to interference (either natural sunlight/glare or from other devices) and, most importantly, scale. 

The automotive industry talks in huge numbers. Around 100 million cars are produced yearly, so any sensor that aims to become a significant part of that industry must be produced in the millions. At least. It is practically impossible to do that with the complex design of current 3D LiDARs, which are made of hundreds of tiny elements (laser emitters, receivers, lenses, etc) that must be carefully placed and calibrated. Lidwave’s solution integrates all the optical elements onto a single silicon-photonics chip, which is made possible by the FCR technology and requires very low-energy lasers. With a unique monostatic design (emitting the laser and receiving through the same point), our calibration-free sensor assembly is as simple as standard cameras. This simplified production and calibration allows for mass production that is suitable for the automotive industry.

LiDAR technology has the potential to revolutionize urban planning and infrastructure management. How does Lidwave envision its technology contributing to smart city initiatives and sustainable urban development?

LiDAR technology offers the unique advantage of high-resolution data collection while maintaining anonymity, making it ideal for “smart city” applications. One gets a clear and comprehensive understanding of the situation without compromising anyone’s privacy. However, current LiDARs’ price limits their use to only the most demanding and critical use cases, leaving the rest of the use cases for cameras and RADARs. Lidwave’s affordable LiDAR solutions can expand their application in smart cities, from improving traffic management to enhancing pedestrian safety at night and unmonitored crossings.

LiDAR technology is evolving rapidly. What emerging trends or advancements do you foresee in the field, and how is Lidwave positioned to capitalize on these trends?

With the latest advancements in 3D LiDARs exceeding the required resolution and range for most applications, the focus is shifting towards enhancing performance under harsh visibility conditions and reducing susceptibility to interference. Cost reduction is another critical area, making LiDAR technology accessible to a broader range of users. At Lidwave, we are uniquely positioned to lead in these areas thanks to our coherent LiDAR technology, which provides inherent resistance to environmental interferences like sun glare and crosstalk. Additionally, our FCR™ technology leverages advancements in Si-Ph technology to implement a System-on-Chip design, significantly lowering production costs and simplifying assembly processes, thus achieving a more competitive price point.

Lidwave operates at the intersection of hardware and software development. How does the company balance innovation in both domains to deliver cutting-edge LiDAR solutions to its customers?

Lidwave’s core expertise lies in coherent optics, with our founders bringing advanced degrees in physics from their days as researchers in a university lab. As a startup, we strategically focus on hardware innovation to maximize resources while forming partnerships with software specialists for integrated solutions. This approach allows us to deliver comprehensive LiDAR solutions that harness the strengths of both hardware and software, meeting the diverse needs of our customers.

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LiDAR technology holds promise for environmental monitoring and conservation efforts. Can you discuss any projects or initiatives where Lidwave’s technology is utilized for environmental purposes?

LiDAR technology has great potential to advance various fields, from automotive and smart cities to agriculture and robotics. Our market strategy does not currently directly focus on environmental monitoring. However, our technology indirectly supports environmental conservation through applications in smart agriculture and autonomous vehicles. These applications contribute to reducing environmental impacts by optimizing resource use and decreasing emissions, thereby extending our technology’s benefits beyond its primary market focuses.

Looking ahead, what key milestones or developments on Lidwave’s roadmap are you particularly excited about, and how do you envision them shaping the future of LiDAR technology?

This year marks a significant milestone for Lidwave as we prepare to ship our first commercial sensors to strategic partners, transitioning from demo units to deployed, field-tested technology. This milestone is pivotal for proving our sensors’ efficacy in real-world conditions. Transitioning to ASIC technology will further reduce costs and power consumption, enhancing our product’s market competitiveness. Moreover, we are excited about customizing our FCR technology for new applications, expanding its capabilities in accuracy and resolution, and exploring new possibilities within and beyond traditional LiDAR applications.

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