September 30, 2021
Designing a LiDAR for automotive durability
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At Baraja, we believe that when it comes to LiDAR, reliability and safety go hand-in-hand, especially in the automotive world.

For instance, imagine if a one-tonne autonomous vehicle was traveling at speeds of 70 miles-per-hour and its LiDAR sensors, the eyes of the vehicle, suddenly failed. The results would be life-threatening. That is why we set out to build one of the first LiDAR sensors capable of meeting the stringent safety and reliability standards of the automotive industry – all while also achieving high-scale, low-cost production.

How did we do this? By removing the weakest and most vulnerable area for failure from the design: fast-moving parts.

Removing these moving mechanical components increases reliability. It also reduces maintenance needs and makes manufacturing at scale easier and more cost-efficient. This means you can confidently rely on the Baraja LiDAR to equip your vehicle with accurate and reliable data throughout the entire lifetime of that vehicle, no matter what conditions it is operating in.

Our patented Spectrum-Scan™ steering technology is the only LiDAR with a true solid-state fast axis. It was built and tested to perform at optimal capacity no matter the temperature, climate, shock levels, or vibration factors of its driving environment.

The power of Spectrum-Scan™ LiDAR

The secret to our high standard of reliability lies within the foundation of our design, the Spectrum-Scan™ steering technology. Most new generation LiDAR sensors rely on rapidly moving parts, such as oscillating mirrors, to achieve fast axis scanning. Not only does this scanning method create a number of inherent problems with the resolution of the LiDAR, but it also puts added stress onto the sensor and creates excessive wear and tear over a short period of time, putting the system at a massive risk of failure. The other common LiDAR architecture requires spinning heavy, costly lasers, which makes the LiDAR vulnerable to damage, expensive and difficult to scale at an automotive level.

The risks of spinning lasers and oscillating mirrors only increases when you factor in common environmental and driving conditions, such as vibration, shock, extreme temperatures and precipitation.

Baraja’s patented Spectrum-Scan™ technology eliminates those vulnerabilities by removing all fast-moving parts from the fast axis and replacing them with prism-like optics and fast tuneable lasers. At a high level, our solid-state Spectrum-Scan™ steering system uses rapidly-changing frequencies and passive dispersive optics to effectively allocate our laser from one point to the next in a matter of microseconds – all without any moving parts.

By removing the mechanical parts most prone to failure, our sensors can exceed the automotive requirements for shock resistance and longevity.

Our horizontal scanning axis, which does rely on a slow-moving mechanism, also ensures the durability and reliability of our LiDAR sensor. Instead of oscillating optical components to alter the direction of our horizontal scan, we focus on creating smooth, slow and consistent movements of small, lightweight objects to help minimize risks, wear and tear, and part failures. Doing this allows us to achieve a 120° scan of the horizontal field-of-view and improve the data in our pointcloud. Not only has Spectrum-Scan™ solid-state steering technology guaranteed the lifetime and resilience of our LiDAR sensor, but when coupled with our unique RMCW ranging technique and homodyne detection, it has also enabled a list of other benefits that other LiDAR companies are still scrambling to solve. This includes superior resolution and precision, doppler-enabled long-range detection and interference immunity.

Putting it to the test

The Baraja LiDAR is built to handle the realities of the road and has been validated through rigorous testing and testimonials from paying clients who have applied the Baraja LiDAR in one of the harshest environments in the world. From the design stage to construction, we have invested in both in-house and third party testing to ensure our technology is able to withstand extreme conditions and meet stringent automotive requirements.

Our prototypes have undergone testing for temperature endurance, shock and vibration resistance, ingress protection, longevity, and more. Every round of testing has helped us enhance each generation of prototypes, resulting in a reliable LiDAR that can withstand some of the hardest reliability tests imposed by the automotive grade ISO-16750 standard for environmental reliability.

We have also tested our product outside the lab, proving its capabilities and resilience through real-world applications from paying customers. For more than two years, our LiDAR sensors have been attached to heavy mining machinery in the Australian Outback to test their ability to hold up against the harshest, most unforgiving environments.

In these mines, the LiDAR sensors stood up against extreme temperatures, reaching up to 16-17 on the UV index in the summer. They also withstood heavy vibrations and shock from the machinery, harsh rainfall, and massive amounts of dust, particles of dirt and small rocks – much more than a passenger vehicle could ever expect to encounter.

Finally, not only are the original LiDAR sensors still working at optimal performance, but they have done so on a 24/7 basis. This is an extremely important factor for robo-taxis or other autonomous transportation solutions that may be operating on a 24-hour or near 24-hour schedule.

These testing environments have further validated our confidence in our product and have proven that the Baraja LiDAR is ready to meet the needs of AVs in everyday road environments. If you are looking for LiDAR to enable your future fleet of autonomous vehicles or trucks, download our white paper or contact our sales team today.

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