TowerJazz and Lumotive Demonstrate Solid-State Beam Steering for LiDAR

TowerJazz and Lumotive from Bellevue, Washington, announced the successful demonstration of the first beam steering ICs for automotive LiDAR systems that are fully solid-state (without any moving parts). The steering concept is Based on Lumotive’s Liquid Crystal Metasurface (LCM) technology, to control the laser beam direction by applying electric fields. The idea was originally developed by  Dr. David Smith, Director for the Center for Metamaterial and Integrated Plasmonics in Duke University.

He had developed a concept called Holographic Beam Forming. By building miniature metal structure on a surfaces (called Metamaterials, or Metasurface), he could change the refractive index of this surface. When these structures are small enough to act like tiny array of antennas, they response to electric fields and allow the control of the refractive index by applying electric signals.  But to implement the idea, Lumotive needed a special IC.

Here TowerJazz came for the help: Lumotive’s beam-steering ICs uses TowerJazz’s 130 nm Cu back-end-of-Line technology, customized to meet specific optical performance requirements with optimized lithography and custom dielectrics. Lumotive’s complete LiDAR system based on this beam steering chip coupled with a custom SiPM (Silicon Photomultiplier) sensor, utilizing TowerJazz’s SPAD (Single Photon Avalanche Diode) technology, will be available for prototype testing in late 2019.

“Our partnership with TowerJazz enabled us to achieve this important milestone and will allow us to bring our revolutionary technology to production,” said Bill Colleran, President & CEO, Lumotive. Research firm Yole Développement estimates that the ADAS and autonomous vehicle LiDAR markets will grow dramatically in the coming years, increasing from $721 million in 2018 to $6.3 billion in 2024, with a CAGR of nearly 45% during that period.

Innoviz: $170M Funding Round for Solid-State LiDAR

Innoviz Technologies, from Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, has closed its Series C funding round with $170 Million secured. This is a much bigger round compare to the company’s expectation of $132M (March 2019). Innoviz provides solid-state LiDAR sensors and perception software to enable mass-production of autonomous vehicles, and had been chosen by BMW to supply the LiDAR sensors of its future autonomous car. The brings Innoviz’s total funding to $252 Million.

The announced that the funding will support several key initiatives, including the enhancement of Innoviz’s perception software. This software support the sensors by providing vehicles with a deep understanding of the 3D driving scene, including object detection, classification, segmentation and tracking. In addition, Innoviz has secured two computer vision industry experts, Dr. Raja Giryes and Or Shimshi, to serve as strategic collaborators to the software.

Dr. Raja’s experience includes senior academic and research roles and a doctorate in computer science. Or brings significant private sector experience managing teams and serving in advisory roles for computer vision, deep learning, machine learning and AI with Samsung Semiconductors, Intel, Qualcomm and Citi Bank. Innoviz will also accelerate its path to mass production and commercialization.

The company expects that its InnovizOne automotive-grade LiDAR solution to enter series production in 2021 for global automakers. The company’s high-performance, solid-state LiDAR solution InnovizPro is available now, offering better performance as well as mapping and other applications.