ToF & FMCW automotive LiDARs: design challenges and solutions

Slawomir Piatek, PhD, Hamamatsu Corporation and New Jersey Institute of Technology
December 11, 2018

Once only fantasy, autonomous vehicles are becoming reality thanks to advances in laser technology and photodetection. However, fully autonomous vehicles require an array of sensory systems to provide information about the vehicle’s surroundings. LiDAR is one of the leading systems for empowering these vehicles by providing the necessary high-resolution, 3D views refreshed at a standard video rate. Engineers, researchers, and startups have experimented with a variety of automotive LiDAR concepts, pointing to two viable configurations: time-of-flight and frequency modulated continuous wave LiDAR.

This webinar focuses on both types of LiDAR, discussing the physics principles of both concepts, pointing out pros and cons of each, and explaining the many engineering challenges associated with designing each type of LiDAR. In a follow-the-light manner, the webinar then discusses:

  • The requirements put on light sources
  • Beam steering mechanism (including flash and structured light)
  • Transmission of the light through the atmosphere and its reflection from the target
  • Photodetection, with a detailed look into photodetectors such as a PIN photodiode, APD, SiPM, and SPAD
  • Detection electronics

This webinar is intended to give a balanced overview of the involved technologies (light sources, beam steering, photodetectors) while pointing out their strengths and weaknesses. But it is not meant to predict the winners in the race to create the optimal LiDAR.

About the presenter

Slawomir Piatek, PhD, is a senior university lecturer of physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. In his role as scientific consultant at Hamamatsu Corporation, he has developed a photonics training program for engineers and is involved in popularizing SiPM as a novel photodetector by writing and lecturing about the device.

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