Continental Expands its Autonomous Vehicles CapabilitiesBy Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 08/25/2021 - 13:19
In October 2020, Continental expanded its LiDAR technology portfolio by investing in AEye, a startup that specializes in robotic vision applications and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). Less than a year later, Continental is integrating AEye's long-range LiDAR technology into a 'full stack automated and autonomous solution."
“Reliable and safe automated and autonomous driving functions will not be feasible without bringing the strengths of all sensor technologies together,” said Frank Petznick, Head of Continental’s ADAS Business Unit, on a statement.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) allows vehicle's sensors to detect surrounding objects. Continental is building up on the long-range LiDAR solutions developed by AEye to 'industrialize' them and make them available for ADAS and Autonomous Vehicles systems. The German supplier is integrating this LiDAR technology into its full sensor stack solution to create "the first full stack automotive-grade system for level 2+ up to Level 4 automated and autonomous driving applications," states Continental.
To recap, levels of autonomy go from 0 to five where 0 is no autonomy and five is full vehicle autonomy without drivers assistance under any circumstance. While levels one to three involve a growing number of ADAS in the vehicle, level four implies that the vehicle can drive itself without the drivers' assistance in certain conditions. There is no level four AV available yet in the US market. If you want to dig deeper in AVs do not miss our analysis on the subject.
For Continental, the new solution is the first step for higher level automation systems that complement radar, camera and ultrasonic technologies that are also part of Continental's sensor system, which help handle complex and diverse traffic scenarios and adverse weather conditions.
“Our partnership with AEye is unique because it enables Continental to build a new long-range LiDAR in a very short time, based on AEye’s reference architecture and software. We will manage the entire product life cycle, including the development of a mass market product, as well as manufacturing, validation and testing according to automotive grade standards," said Gunnar Juergens, Head of LiDAR Segment at Continental.
Automated Driving Systems (ADS) are gaining customer acceptance, particularly in Asia. Last week Continental published the results of a survey in which consumers across different markets including Germany, France, the US, China and Japan provided insights into their mobility habits. The result is that 91 percent of responders in China and 82 percent in Japan consider automated driving "to be a useful development," and 79 and 67 percent, respectively, expect the technology to become "a permanent feature of everyday road traffic in the next five to ten years," said the company in a press release.
Part of Continental's R&D efforts in ADAS are conducted in Queretaro at its budding R&D facilities. "Once completed, the center will have two buildings with more than 1,100 engineers working on technology developments focused on chassis and safety implementations. These innovations are active accident prevention systems that monitor the vehicle’s surroundings and minimize the consequences of an imminent accident. In the end, these systems work through artificial intelligence that will eventually be used in self-driving platforms," told Jorge Vázquez, Director of Continental’s R&D Center, to Mexico Automotive Review back in 2018.