BMW Will Use Innoviz LiDAR in its Autonomous Vehicles

Israeli startup Innoviz has inked a deal with BMW to supply the LiDAR systems for the automaker's autonomous vehicles starting in 2021.

BMW has announced that it will be implementing the InnovizOne LiDAR sensor from Israeli startup Innoviz in its series production vehicles beginning in 2021. Under the deal, Innoviz will partner with Canada-based ADAS supplier, Magna, to create self-driving systems for BMW vehicles that can support level 3, 4, or even level 5 autonomy. “This is the strongest indication yet that solid-state LiDAR is the winner over mechanical spinning and other types of LiDAR technology, as it is one of the first design contracts within the automotive industry to feature solid-state LiDAR,” Omer Keilaf, CEO and co-founder, said in an email statement to Design News. “Also, this announcement is further proof that the industry is on track for series production of autonomous vehicles by 2021, with advanced, automotive-grade LiDAR available to help Levels 3 - 5 autonomous cars 'see' their surroundings.”

The InnovizOne is a solid state, MEMS-based LiDAR sensor with a modular design that allows it to be integrated into most vehicle platforms to provide some level of self-driving capability. Under the BMW agreement, the InnovizOne will be integrated as part of Magna's MAX4 autonomous driving platform, which the company unveiled last year. The MAX4 platform combines a computing platform with cameras, RADAR, LiDAR (in this case, the InnovizOne), and ultrasonic sensors. Sharing a similar design philosophy as Innoviz, Magna has designed the MAX4 to be integrated into vehicles, including hybrids and electrics, without the need for manufacturers to change the vehicle's design and styling. The company has said this includes not taking up cargo or personal space within the vehicle.

Innoviz's solid-state LiDAR generates a 3D point cloud of the vehicle’s surroundings in real time, even in challenging settings such as direct sunlight, varying weather conditions, and multi-LiDAR environments. In addition, the solution provides a complete computer vision software stack and algorithms to turn 3D vision into critical driving insights. (Image source: Innoviz)

While Magna oversees integration and testing, Innoviz will also provide the computer vision software stack for the system, including object detection, tracking, and classification for things like people, cars, trucks, bikes, driveable areas, and lane markings. “Innoviz Computer Vision is a LiDAR point cloud, data-based computer vision product that Innoviz developed in order to provide our customers a better and faster development process of autonomous capabilities,” Keilaf said. “We use unique attributes generated by Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor, harnessed by Innoviz Computer Vision division, to deliver scene perception, calibration, mapping, and localization tools for our customers. Innoviz Computer Vision is designed tailored to our sensor’s unique capabilities. Therefore, it provides an advantage over computer vision that is applied on other LiDARs. The LiDAR provides different attributes besides the depth information that gives Innoviz’s technology an edge over traditional approaches.”

Innoviz and Magna seem confident they will be able to deliver on a production scale that will satisfy BMW's needs. Keilaf said Innoviz's production site in Haifa, Israel is able to produce a few thousand devices per month and is flexible to adjust to higher scale rather quickly. He also said the company is planning on opening a second production line in China in early 2019.

Solid-state LiDAR solutions are purported to overcome the reliability, size, and cost challenges of their spinning mechanical counterparts. An April 2018 analysis from ABI Research has forecast 8 million consumer vehicles to ship globally with Level 3 – 5 autonomy by 2025. Within this, ABI predicts as many as 36 million LiDAR will ship in 2025, corresponding to a market value of $7.2 billion. “For conditional and high-level automation applications within the consumer market, i.e., SAE Level 3 and Level 4, solid state LiDAR solutions from companies such as Innoviz and LeddarTech have emerged as the LiDAR form factor that will not only help enable robust sensing on autonomous vehicles but also, more importantly, satisfy stringent pricing requirements set by OEMs,” the ABI report says. “These units are expected to reach price points of US $200 and US $750 per unit by 2020, for low and high-end solutions, respectfully. At this price, even with multiple sensors around the car, using solid-state LiDAR solutions represents a highly feasible option to OEMs on premium models.”

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, and robotics.

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