Ex-Apple engineers create next-gen lidar for self-driving cars


Aeva lidar sensor

Aeva lidar sensor

Lidar is an essential component of self-driving cars, and a company by the name of Aeva believes it has something breakthrough. The company's lidar system fits in a small box and creates more vivid mapping to help a self-driving car see like never before.

The Verge reported Monday that Aeva is the brainchild of two ex-Apple engineers. Neither would admit it, but both reportedly have ties to Apple's Project Titan, what the public knows as Apple's self-driving car program. The new system's claim to fame is its ability to separate objects based on distance, whether an object is moving toward or away from it. Further, it can measure the velocity of an object, which helps predict where a car or pedestrian will move next.

Aeva co-founder Soroush Salehian said the technology isn't really a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, but rather a breakthrough in how the hardware and software work together. Aeva's product works in harmony to create more detailed mapping quicker than competitors' lidar. The tiny box also includes all of the sensors and cameras needed to understand any components within its field of vision.

Thus, Aeva's "4D" lidar doesn't operate like any typical system. While other lidar systems send out pulses of light to measure distance, Aeva's uses a continuous laser light to gather data more quickly. The system can then process the data quickly without need for something secondary to process light pulses, then make a decision. The company's system does a lot of the heavy lifting up front for quick response times without an AI system to analyze things. Those who choose to implement Aeva's technology will need to provide their own AI system.

Aeva's technology is unlike anything currently, and the company is banking on that competency. The startup announced $45 million in funding opening today and even shared that it has received interest from some automakers. Said unnamed automakers have begun taking the Aeva lidar sensor into account for next-generation commercial vehicles. However, the company wouldn't share which companies at this time.

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