March 7, 2022
Endgame LiDAR
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At Baraja, achieving high-volume automotive LiDAR adoption has always been our endgame. So, while other companies are still struggling to solve key technology issues needed to retrofit existing LiDAR architectures, we have developed our core technology from the ground up, doing it the right way from the start. We are now executing our roadmap to achieve what we believe is the market’s first LiDAR platform prepared to meet the demands of fully-autonomous driving.

Baraja’s Spectrum-Scan™ LiDAR uses a unique patented architecture that combines the invention of a solid-state fast axis scanning method called Spectrum-Scan™ with Random Modulated Continuous Wave (RMCW) ranging and 1550nm wavelength-tunable lasers.

This novel combination of core technologies allows for no-compromise, unprecedented LiDAR performance, reliability and integrability that will enable a fully-autonomous future without the costly trade-offs of legacy technologies.

As we enter the market, we are racing ahead of competitors with a clear pathway towards wafer-scale integration that is capable of meeting and exceeding automotive targets for performance, size, cost and reliability—or what we call ‘Endgame LiDAR’.

Here’s our vision for the future.

A core architecture that improves data and enables smarter decision-making

Since we started with a clear vision of automotive use cases, our team has been able to focus on what really matters to our customers: accurate object detection, data you can trust and seamless automotive integration.

Our solid-state Spectrum-Scan™ steering system is a unique solution that uses refraction to scan in the fast axis with no-moving-parts. Paired with our RMCW ranging method, our core technology, proven in harsh mining environments, has already enabled us to exceed automotive reliability standards while providing cutting-edge performance and a clear path to miniaturization meeting volume production cost targets. It has also helped overcome issues that are common with other legacy LiDAR systems, such as interference, blur and speckle.

Here are some of the capabilities and features that have set Baraja Spectrum-Scan™ LiDAR apart from others since the very first generation:

  • 2000 channel vertical axis – With up to 2000 lines of vertical resolution (>10x the industry standard) our LiDAR helps to gather important details allowing your perception algorithm to make smarter decisions.
  • On-the-fly foveation – The ability to dynamically and instantly increase resolution in the desired regions of interest, enhance details and improve perception stack decisions (all without sacrificing reliability).
  • Better effective range – The ability to detect even the smallest objects with the unflawed long-range perception that comes from ranging technology that not only enhances sensitivity but also focuses on resolution, beam divergence, and accuracy and precision.
  • Interference immunity – The ability to avoid blind spots caused by intercepting signals from external light sources, such as the sun and/or other LiDAR sensors, with a robust, secure and multi-layered approach.

This architecture is at the core of our platform today and tomorrow. The Spectrum HD family of products will continue to rely on the proven reliability of this foundational architecture while further enhancing performance and reducing size enabled by continued integration.

When our customers and partners choose our Doppler-enabled LiDAR, they will also benefit from these critical features:

  • Blur-free pointcloud – While other LiDARs mechanically scan (i.e. move) the laser beam while performing the ranging measurement yielding a blurry pointcloud, our solid-state wavelength-tuning Spectrum-Scan™ system maintains the laser steadily pointed at the target while performing the full ranging integration measurement, and then instantaneously ‘hops’ to the next point. This yields an incredibly crisp pointcloud that enables accurate detection of small objects at greater distances.
  • Speckle-free pointcloud – Mitigate speckle degradation (characteristic of other coherent homodyne systems) while still harnessing the benefits of homodyne detection (lower power consumption, small form-factor, increased long-range object detection and per-point Doppler measurements, etc.).

Enabling per-point Doppler velocity measurement

Enabling per-point Doppler shift velocity measurements is one of the next innovations in our endgame LiDAR roadmap—and because Spectrum-Scan™ steering was built with Doppler integration in mind, we won’t need to pivot our core technology to get there.

Homodyne detection enables us to not only measure the amplitude of the returning signal but also optical properties such as the phase of the returning light. Being sensitive to phase is the key to decoding Doppler velocity shift so we can instantaneously measure Doppler velocity in every point in the pointcloud without the critical drawbacks of legacy FMCW LiDAR (speckle and blur).

Doppler is a key differentiating feature for LiDAR sensors to help enable full autonomy (L4+). For autonomous vehicles to be able to make quick and accurate decisions and avoid accidents, they not only need to know where and what objects are, but they also need to understand if the object is moving and, if so, how fast and whether it is moving towards the vehicle or away. Our unique ability to measure velocity in every point in the pointcloud boosts the perception algorithm’s ability to distinguish and segment objects that overlap in the pointcloud.

For example, if a group of partygoers is crowded along a street, the pointcloud on its own may segment them as one large object. With Doppler, if someone suddenly stumbles out of the group and towards the road, the Doppler measurement will instantly pick up on the movement. The perception algorithm will then be able to distinguish the individual from the crowd and make driving decisions to avoid a potentially deadly accident.

Reducing size and cost

At Baraja, we don’t stop at good enough. Our vision is to provide the automotive industry with the highest performing, compact, manufacturable and cost-effective LiDAR sensor that will help make safe and autonomous vehicles available to all.

Achieving miniaturization has been our goal from the beginning. The name Baraja means a deck of playing cards in Spanish. This is our end goal: build a LiDAR system capable of outstanding performance and reliability but small enough to fit in your pocket and seamlessly integrate in the vehicle’s aesthetics.

When we think of ‘Endgame LiDAR’, we imagine an integrated LiDAR system, where all of today’s bulky components (laser, amplifiers, steering mechanism, detectors and processor) are integrated onto chip-sized components. By having smaller sub-components, we make it possible to effectively reduce the size, cost and power consumption of the overall LiDAR system while enhancing system reliability.

The transition of our Spectrum HD from a direct detection methodology to a homodyne detection opens the possibilities to fabricate the transmitter and receiver components, two traditionally bulky pieces, onto silicon photonic chips.

In addition to the miniaturization of the transmitter and receiver, we are also working to reduce the remaining bulky components onto photonic chips, including the steering system. So, our Spectrum HD will have wafer-scale technology for each of its core components (the transmitter, the receiver and the fast axis scanner) while still maintaining all of the performance and benefits of the core Spectrum-Scan™ technology.

By decreasing the size of the LiDAR, the LiDAR system can be easily mounted in more places on or in the vehicle—behind the windshield, in the grill, in door frames, in headlights, etc. Having access to mature fabrication techniques used in the integrated circuit and telecommunication industries allows us to increase scalability while also driving down costs, making it easier to provide autonomous technology in high volume. With this level of miniaturization, automotive companies will be able to design and produce high-quality, low-cost, safe autonomous vehicles, making these vehicle models more accessible to the general public and increasing the adoption rate of fully-autonomous vehicles.

The autonomous future is Baraja

While legacy LiDAR sensors will have to fundamentally pivot their technological architecture to get to size, performance, reliability and cost requirements for mass production, our Spectrum-Scan™ platform has a clear path to solve these challenges.

At Baraja, we developed and evolved a product from scratch, developing a completely unique LiDAR system tailored to the needs of automotive. With this approach, we have addressed the problems inherent to legacy LiDAR sensors from the start with a consolidated roadmap, improving system performance, size and power dissipation while maintaining the core technology.

Our Spectrum and Spectrum Off-road products have already shown customers a glimpse of what our LiDAR technology can do. Our Spectrum HD LiDAR pushes the limits of the platform, with dramatic form-factor improvements and a new benchmark in resolution.

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