Continental is consolidating its position in the field of assisted and automated driving with a minority stake in sensor pioneer AEye. The company, headquartered in Dublin, California, USA, has developed a precision, high-performance, long-range lidar technology.
Continental plans to industrialize this for passenger cars and trucks. The volume production launch is scheduled for late 2024. The two companies have agreed not to disclose the proposed investment amount.
Along with cameras and radars, lidar sensors count among the key technologies for automated driving. Continental has more than 20 years of experience in lidar sensors alone. In 2019, the technology company generated some 2 billion euros from driver assistance systems, making it one of the leading suppliers in this growth market.
The lidar from AEye is characterized by high performance in long-range detection. Vehicles are detected at a distance of over 300 meters and pedestrians at over 200 meters. Furthermore, even small, low-reflecting objects like bricks are reliably detected at a distance of up to 160 meters.
With its stake in AEye, Continental is thus complementing its existing close-range lidar technology. In late 2020, Continental will start volume production of the sensor for a well-known vehicle manufacturer’s premium vehicles worldwide. Here, it is an important component of the system for highly automated driving. “We’re bringing what others are still tinkering with onto the road around the globe. Continental is the first automotive supplier to industrialize high-resolution lidar sensors without moving components,” says Frank Petznick, head of the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems business unit at Continental, describing this pioneering achievement. On the investment, he adds: “From near to long range: with our stake in AEye, we’ll be able to accurately and reliably cover all distances using lidar technology in the future in order to implement highly to fully automated driving in both passenger car and truck applications. In doing so, we’re consolidating our leadership position in assisted and automated driving.”