BMW’s Autonomous Vehicles Will Use New Solid-State LiDAR Sensors

BMW hasn’t been shy about its plans to launch vehicles with autonomous driving technology and now we’re starting to learn more about which system the company will use.

In a press release, Magna and Innoviz Technologies announced it will be supplying BMW with new solid-state LiDAR sensors. These sensors will allow for Level 4 and Level 5 semi-autonomous and fully autonomous driving.

While Innoviz is a relatively new company, they have developed a compact sensor which can be installed in virtually any vehicle. As ZDnet explains, traditional LiDAR sensors are spinning units which provide 360 degrees of coverage but they’re bulky and expensive. The publication goes on to note these sensors cost thousands of dollars and some autonomous vehicles require more than one of them.

Innoviz’s new sensor is called the InnovizOne and it is significantly smaller than other LiDAR sensors and it only costs around $1,000. In order to hit the size and price point, the InnovizOne has a fixed laser beam that is directed by a small spinning mirror. This setup enables the sensor to provide a wide range of coverage despite its small size.

According to Magna, the LiDAR sensor “generates a 3D point cloud, in real time, of the vehicle’s surroundings.” The company says this occurs even in challenging conditions such as direct sunlight or inclement weather.

The production contract is one of the first for solid-state LiDAR systems and the sensors will be integrated into BMW vehicles through Magna’s MAX4 autonomous platform. Models will the sensors will also use advanced software algorithms which enable them to detect objects and then classify them. Magna also promises the technology will be safe, reliable and durable.

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