The Israeli company Mobileye, owned (and jewel) of Intel, took advantage of CES to announce a new kind of electronic component: a photonic lidar. With the aim of significantly lowering the entry ticket for the autonomous car to make it accessible. More than a dream, this component is part of a real battle plan which aims to deploy this new Lidar en masse from 2025.
In addition to a lower price, the Lidar developed by Mobileye and built by Intel has the advantage of being very compact and more efficient than most current models.
Not only does it see further (up to 200m instead of around 100m), but in addition it exceeds one of the limits of current lidars. In addition to the object’s distance, it is able to measure its velocity in real time.
A feat made possible by a new technology called FMCW (Frequency modulated continuous wave or frequency modulated continuous wave) which, instead of relying on synchronized pulsed light, relies on continuous light.
Mobileye takes advantage of the fact that Intel is one of the rare semiconductor players able to develop and produce photonic components. Because only circuits whose information circulates at the speed of light can achieve such a feat.
A new component to improve redundancy
If you have read our article which introduces Mobileye, you may know that the company’s philosophy is to develop accessible technologies, because for its boss, Amnon Shashua, it is massive deployment of technology that will enable the “system »Complete to make the autonomous car possible.
To do so, Mobileye’s core business has been the development of chips and algorithms driving simple image sensors, a much cheaper solution than conventional automotive Lidars.
Mobileye has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to produce components and software environment capable of driving a car without human assistance.
The new photonic lidar is therefore not the heart of the system, but a complement that reinforces the redundancy of information capture.
By developing a solution where the fundamentals are the most ” cheap », Supplemented by a higher-end component, Mobileye promises a more robust device than if it were the other way around.
In addition to its hardware part, which is therefore based on this new photonic lidar and its EyeQ 5 (24 TOPS, 10W, in production) and EyeQ 6 chips, scheduled for 2023 (128 TOPS, 40W), Mobileye also relies on a software and cartographic part. An area in which the company has just turned a corner.
8 million kilometers analyzed per day
The Mobileye solutions which have been integrated for years in the models of several car manufacturers (BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, General Motors, etc.) have the particularity of sending data daily to the company’s servers.
Today, the fleet is such that Mobileye claims no less than 8 million kilometers of routes analyzed per day, bringing the number of kilometers driven by its services to one billion. A mapping system not based on imagery, with heavy data to transfer and manipulate, but on simple “text” information resulting from image analysis carried out by EyeQ chips (in the form “ There is a stop sign at geographic coordinates XXX-YYY ».).
This “blind” mapping, which is added to traditional GPS guidance, makes it possible to reinforce the security of the system by providing, once again, redundancy. By combining internal mapping information (updated every day automatically by vehicles) with information analyzed by image sensors and by the future photonic lidar, Mobileye hopes to have in its hands the system that will really make the autonomous car possible. .
To verify the materialization of the ambitions of Mobileye (and Intel!), We will have to wait for the availability of the future EyeQ chip (2023) and the photonic lidar, scheduled for 2025.
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