The need for standardization in automotive LiDARs

In his recent great article in Forbes, “The LiDAR Range Wars — Mine Is Longer Than Yours,” Mr. Sabbir Rangwala presented, to my opinion, one of the hottest issues in the LiDAR industry. Specifically, the tight connections between range performance, angular performance, and data rates. The tradeoff between these parameters is something that each LiDAR system architect has to tackle. However, without reducing the importance of these parameters, I think that both Mr. Rangwala and many companies in their Publications/Datasheets/Presentations miss some additional critical parameters. Some of the parameters that get constantly missed out when comparing the pros and cons of LiDAR systems are price, system dimensions, time to market, and, of course, system reliability.

I don’t say that these parameters aren’t discussed or presented at all. However, usually, the companies are cherry-picking only the parameters that work in their favor, making it a hard time to compare “apples to apples” when evaluating LiDAR systems.

Moreover, when presenting the range performance of a system, many times the actual test conditions are omitted. It’s not enough to state “10% target detection at 300m”. What was the ambient light intensity during the test? What was the probability of detection level? What was the appropriate false alarm rate? What was the frame rate?

The objective of each company to present its system in the best way is obvious. But, I think that we, as an industry, should strive to develop:

1. A mutually accepted set of parameters to compare automotive LiDAR systems.

2. A standard way to test those parameters.

I’m glad for the opportunity to present at the upcoming AutoSens conference in Brussels my suggestion for the first topic. In parallel, I invite my colleagues in the automotive LiDAR industry to join me in working on the second topic. I welcome experts both from the LiDAR companies and OEMs to contact me and create a committee, that will lay the foundation for such a standard.

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