author: Eric Walz
Lidar developer Innoviz Technologies Ltd, one of the leading developers of laser technology for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving, has signed a major supply agreement with Volkswagen’s software unit CARIAD.
Israel-based Innoviz will provide its lidar sensors and its advanced sensing software to CARIAD. The custom sighting software improves the accuracy of the lidar.
CARIAD selected Innoviz after a rigorous 2-year RFQ process involving over hundreds of competing companies.
It is the third major supply agreement for Innoviz. The company’s forward-looking order book was updated by $4 billion with the CARIAD supply agreement and now stands at $6.6 billion.
Innoviz delivers its “Innoviz Two” lidar unit to CARIAD. It has a detection range of up to 300 meters. Due to its low cost and improved performance, the InnovizTwo enables car manufacturers to offer safe level 2 automated driving capabilities to their models.
Like many automakers following Tesla’s lead, Volkswagen is moving towards building software-defined EVs capable of receiving regular over-the-air software updates over the life of the vehicle.
The lidar sensors supplied by Innoviz will be part of this software-based vehicle architecture and operating system that CARIAD is building from the mid-decade as the foundation for millions of future Volkswagen EVs. The vehicle’s operating system is called “VW.OS”.
VW.OS will be further supported by the Volkswagen Cloud (“VW.AC”) and a scalable, unified end-to-end electronic architecture for future Volkswagen EVs.
“We are excited to partner with the CARIAD team and be a supplier of LiDAR sensors and perception software to support safe mobility for vehicles launched mid-decade,” said Innoviz CEO and Co-Founder, Omer Keilaf . “CARIAD is a leading player in the transformation of the entire automotive industry. We are proud to be part of their mission.”
Innoviz is one of several leading lidar developers, including Luminar Technologies Inc. and Cepton Technologies Inc., which develop low-cost, automotive-grade lidar sensors for the world’s automakers. All three lidar developers have recently launched IPOs to raise capital from investors and now each has signed major deals with automakers as well.
Innoviz made its Wall Street in April 2021 after merging with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) Collective Growth Corp to raise fresh capital from investors seeking opportunities in the advanced mobility sector. The combined company retained the name Innoviz Technologies, Ltd. and is listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “INVZ”.
Innoviz rival Luminar has partnered with both Volvo and Mercedes-Benz and supplies its lidar units to both automakers. Luminar’s lidar can be linked to the custom software stack, giving automakers an all-in-one autonomous driving solution that can be added to vehicles during production.
Cepton was recently selected as a lidar supplier to General Motors. The company manufactures small, solid-state LIDAR sensors that can be embedded in automotive lighting assemblies, providing automakers such as GM with a solution to preserve vehicle aesthetics. These compact lidar sensors can be concealed in headlight units or brake light housings.
What is LiDAR and why is it so important to car manufacturers?
The term ‘lidar’ is an acronym for ‘light detection and range’. The technology works by emitting pulses of invisible laser light and measuring the time it takes for the light to reflect back onto solid objects.
The reflected laser beams are used to create a 3D view of the environment around a vehicle and can accurately identify pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, infrastructure and other hazards. More advanced lidar sensors can also determine whether an object is moving toward or away from a vehicle.
Lidar sensors serve as additional eyes on the road for vehicle ADAS, such as vehicle emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (ACC), which are now standard in many new vehicles. Only four of these compact lidar sensors can provide 360 degree sighting coverage around a vehicle.
For autonomous driving applications, lidar sensors are usually combined with cameras, radar and other sensing software.
As automated or hands-free highway driving features become available on many new vehicles, there is a growing demand for lidar technology from companies like Innoviz, Luminar and Cepton and many others, including lidar investor Velodyne Lidar Inc.
In addition to the deal with Innoviz, CARIAD announced several key partnerships in 2022 as it continues to build VW.OS for Volkswagen.
In January, CARIAD and car supplier Bosch agreed to enter into an extensive partnership to jointly develop the state-of-the-art, standardized software platform for Volkswagen vehicles. The aim of the partnership is to make SAE Level-2 and 3 autonomous driving capabilities suitable for volume production.
In March, Volkswagen announced the addition of anonymous “swarm data” from other Volkswagen Group vehicles to help its advanced driver assistance systems make better decisions over time, such as automatic lane changing. The addition of swarm data marks the next step towards vehicle systems that support fully automated driving, according to Volkswagen.
Last month, CARIAD announced that it had selected BlackBerry QNX technology for VW.OS. As part of the agreement, BlackBerry will license its QNX technology to CARIAD, including its QNX OS for Safety, a pre-certified microkernel operating system designed for safety-critical embedded systems, as well as the toolchains for engineers who build those systems.
In May, CARIAD announced that Qualcomm Technologies will provide its system-on-chips (SoCs) for the VW software platform designed to deliver SAE Level 4 autonomous driving in future vehicles.
CARIAD was founded in 2020. The unit currently has approximately 5,000 engineers and developers working on the unified software platform and operating system for all future vehicles of the Volkswagen Group brand. VW brands include Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley and Ducati.