"We use the liquid crystal to control the direction of the laser beam. It scales well with size, power and cost. We haven't demo-ed it publicly but we have done an in-car demo in private," said Steyerl. "It may take another couple of years to productize," he added.
While there are a lot of startups working with tier-ones on particular aspects of vehicle autonomy Steyerl reckons ADI has the advantage that it can integrate a lot of the signal chain behind all three types of sensor; RF, laser and optical. "It is not our aim to be a tier-one but to understand and influence the system concepts," he said.
Does that include digital data fusion? Not really says Steyerl. If you just look at the raw data coming off the three sensor types it would quickly be gigabytes of data and it's not feasible to process that in the car or move it to the cloud, Steyerl said. "Therefore pre-processing at the sensor becomes vital: to prune the data in 3D and 4D. We build the bridge from analog to digital and back. So pre-processing is a good place for ADI to play," he added.
ADI's radar capability also came from an acquisition: Symeo GmbH (Munich, Germany) (see "V3DIM" research project to lead the 3D vertical design of 40 to 100 GHz ICs). The high-precision radar technology was originally developed within Siemens and subsequently spun-out as an independent entity in 2005 by the Siemens Technology Accelerator GmbH. It enables real-time position detection and distance measurement and is designed to work in tough environments.
"It was a radar sensor for the industrial market; for robots, cranes, construction, and monitoring truck movements," but again it allowed ADI to gain system-level knowledge.
Symeo operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary but is able to leverage ADI's global sales capabilities while receiving additional resources for R&D while being encouraged to traverse that R&D into the automotive area of interest, Steyerl said. "It's a business model we have found worth repeating," he said.
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