Is LiDAR following the same RADAR development path?

Dr. Gunnar Juergens, VP and Head of LiDAR Segment at Continental joins the AutoSens agenda for the Detroit edition (12-13 May) to deliver a session on why there can’t be a future in automation without LiDAR. He took some time out to talk to us about his career background, challenges facing the industry and what he looks forward to at AutoSens.

As VP and Head of Continental’s global LiDAR segment, what are your main responsibilities?

As global Head of the LiDAR segment at Continental, I am responsible for both the product and the business side of LiDAR. My product responsibility includes the product definition, the industrialization and the delivery to our customers worldwide. Based on the sales of our LiDAR sensors, it is my task to ensure profitable growth for the segment.

Why do you see LiDAR as an important part of the sensor suite for L3+ autonomy? Do you see applications also being viable in ADAS?

Due to its unique capabilities to detect and measure object dimensions in

Dr. Gunnar Juergens, VP and Head of Continental’s global LiDAR segment. Delivering a presentation on “No Automated Future Without LiDAR.”

all directions and varying distances, even under adverse light or weather conditions, LiDAR offers a new quality of safety to any level of automation in the car. During Level 2 ADAS functionality, LiDAR sensors will improve hands-off time at higher speeds. At Level 3 and above, LiDAR becomes an indispensable enabler for safe autonomous driving.

You were quoted in a recent interview that you believe the LiDAR market will develop very similar to what you know from your radar business, would you be able to elaborate on what you mean? What have you learnt from radar that can be applied to LiDAR development?

Radar technology has been a key enabler for safe ADAS features in vehicles, starting with adaptive cruise control and emergency braking about 20 years ago. At first, radar applications came at a higher price which was only affordable in premium vehicles. Today we know that radar sensors are standard equipment in nearly all new vehicles. We expect LiDAR to go through a similar development curve. By the way, Continental has just celebrated the milestone of producing 100 million radar sensors.

We are running a panel at the event on extending the limits of CMOPS image sensors. What do you think to the statement “CMOS camera technology capabilities will broaden sensor capabilities to such an extent to make other sensor modalities redundant”?

Technologies such as CMOS help to make camera sensors better and also more affordable. This innovation will significantly improve sensing wherever cameras have proven to be effective. However, there are physical limitations of cameras which will not change even with help from CMOS. Cameras are not effective in low light or night conditions and they can be blinded by the sun, e.g. when leaving a tunnel. Cameras also have limited capabilities to measure the distance and extensions of object in the distance. LiDAR has fundamental advantages in the conditions mentioned above. This is why you want to have radar, camera and LiDAR in your car at higher levels of automation.

What are you looking forward to about joining us as a speaker at AutoSens Detroit?

I am looking forward to present and discuss our view of current LiDAR technology and how it supports different use cases and applications in the automotive market. LiDAR is a complex technology and we are just at the beginning of a strong growth path. It will be exciting to get feedback and discuss both technology aspects and the market perspective.

Join Dr. Gunnar Juergens, VP and Head of Continental’s global LiDAR segment and watch his session on “No Automated Future Without LiDAR.”