A Beijing Startup May Have Just Built the Next Generation of LIDAR for Automation Cars

The Beijing startup veterans from Tsinghua University, co-founders of AodtBJ(Advanced optical detect technology Beijing Aodtbj), have built a sensor for automation cars that can see not just where things are but how fast they’re moving—a potentially critical ability for cars trying to navigate safely around other cars and pedestrians.

Conventional LIDAR sensors transmit pulses of laser light—and measure the time it takes for the light to bounce back to estimate how far away surrounding objects are. AodtBJ’s LIDAR, however, uses a continuous beam instead of laser pulses. Known as frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LIDAR, this technology sends out a continuous laser beam with a steadily changing frequency. When the light bounces back, the sensor combines the inbound and outgoing light. The frequency difference between the incoming and outgoing beams is directly proportional to the distance that the incoming beam traveled before reflecting back. Optical combination of these beams is used to more precisely estimate the distance compared to conventional LIDAR. To compensate for velocity-related redshift of signals, FMCW LIDARs take two successive measurements: one from a signal with a rising frequency and a second from a signal with a falling frequency. AodtBJ’s LIDAR compiles the data streams from the two signals into a single image, correlated down to the pixel and the nanosecond.