Computing chip for the sensor already developed
Samsung Electronics has started the development of a lidar sensor for autonomous driving, TheElec has learned.
The company was aiming to commercialize the technology in 2026, people familiar with the matter said.
Samsung is aiming to strengthen its automotive business, they said. The company launched an image sensor for cars recently.
Lidar is a crucial component for autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance systems.
It shoots a pulse laser and determines ranges of target objects by calculating how long it takes for the laser to return to the receiver.
Lidar systems are comprised for a computing chip, pulse laser and detector.
Samsung System LSI, the company’s processor unit, has recently finished the development of a meta lidar chip that will act as the computing chip on the lidar sensor.
The chip collects the refractive data of the light and calculates the distance. It is made ultra-small using a metamaterial that can control optical characteristics
For the pulse laser and detector, Samsung is developing them based on the time of flight method.
A complete lidar set is expected in the next five years. Samsung is aiming to have its lidar set have a range of 100 meters.
The lidar sensor will also be an ultra-small module and not cylindrical. Major lidar companies such as Velodyne and Luminar offer 360 degree scanning cylindrical lidars.
These lidars are attached at the center of a car’s roof like an antenna. This has been considered unattractive in terms of car design. Lidars also currently cost 40 million won to 100 million won and this cost barrier is considered an obstacle in mass adoption.
Samsung’s method will have multiple ultra-small lidar modules attached to the car. The company is also aiming the modules to be under 50,000 won in price.
Other lidar companies include Velodyne, Luminar, Valeo, Leddartech and Quanergy Systems. Intel subsidiary Mobileye was also developing its lidar SoC called EyeC, aiming for a 2024 launch.
According to Yole Development, the automotive lidar market is expected to grow 113% per year on average from 2020 to 2026. The market is projected to be worth US$1.7 billion in 2026.