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Aeva, New take on Lidar and its uses,

Arthur Hanson

Well-known member
Aeva, a new start up in the lidar game, not only measures distance, but velocity with a single low cost chip. The accuracy they are able to achieve will open many new areas of use for this technology at the performance and price specs they claim they can achieve. Any thoughts or comments on this are solicited and welcome. It looks like Aeva could open up whole new markets with the size, cost and performance of their new chip.

 

TxAggie1995

New member
Interesting. I worked on a project in grad school about 3 years ago to build a similar kind of LIDAR SoC (just using the standard time of flight approach). The project failed, and the killer issue we ran into was beam spread. We couldn't get enough distance to be useful without having a really narrow beam, but having a really narrow beam limits what you can see. The only aperture we got acceptable distance with was like 5 degrees, at which point your system is just staring through a pinhole.

I see vague references to "range" in the article... wonder how far out these guys are really making it.
 

jaiyam

New member
Interesting. I worked on a project in grad school about 3 years ago to build a similar kind of LIDAR SoC (just using the standard time of flight approach). The project failed, and the killer issue we ran into was beam spread. We couldn't get enough distance to be useful without having a really narrow beam, but having a really narrow beam limits what you can see. The only aperture we got acceptable distance with was like 5 degrees, at which point your system is just staring through a pinhole.

I see vague references to "range" in the article... wonder how far out these guys are really making it.
Did you have physicists on your team? Did they try shaping the beam to reduce dispersion or using a different wavelength of light? This is not a problem to be solved by VLSI design but through physics. They are using a continuous laser which shows they have something quite different from others, which may mean a different lasing material and explain the low cost.
 

TxAggie1995

New member
Did you have physicists on your team? Did they try shaping the beam to reduce dispersion or using a different wavelength of light? This is not a problem to be solved by VLSI design but through physics. They are using a continuous laser which shows they have something quite different from others, which may mean a different lasing material and explain the low cost.

Nope, didn't bother with the physics at all. We tried to solve it with VLSI design as you said. We used some VCSELs because those were my advisor's comfort zone, he was in-and-out familiar with them, and AFAIK we didn't do anything special with them.

The system as a whole was very conventional. The novelty for research papers was going to come from SoC (not yet done back in 2017 although it was the clear next step) and a new interference reduction approach that proved to be very simple and effective.
 
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jaiyam

New member
Nope, didn't bother with the physics at all. We tried to solve it with VLSI design as you said. We used some VCSELs because those were my advisor's comfort zone, he was in-and-out familiar with them, and AFAIK we didn't do anything special with them.

The system as a whole was very conventional. The novelty for research papers was going to come from SoC (not yet done back in 2017 although it was the clear next step) and a new interference reduction approach that proved to be very simple and effective.
It seems short-sighted (pun intended :) ) not to have physics collaborators to solve the problem. I am reminded of this piece from 2017 in SPIE Photonics magazine, which discusses something called 'flash lidar'. It goes against VCSEL based approaches in that it uses just one laser and intentionally spreads the beam using diverging lenses to gather signal from a wide area. The secret is in having a dense 2D detector as well which can measure intensity as well as return time. So, beam divergence is not a show stopper if you are willing to account for it in the design. I remember an experiment from my Bachelor's course on a technique called laser doppler anemometry which can measure the velocity of liquid flow by interfering the incident and reflected beams. I looked up on Wikipedia and found that NASA has already developed a laser doppler lidar for a moon lander, which can measure both the altitude and velocity of the vehicle. So, I think the problem is definitely solvable and the physics is well known.
 
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