DJI-backed Livox Unveils New Lidar Tech at CES 2020

As you’d expect, DJI has a big presence at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). But on top of showing off the company’s hardware lineup and handheld imaging systems, the drone industry’s leading manufacturer is introducing a success story from its Open Innovation Program: Livox. 

Livox has big ambitions in the lidar sensor space. At CES 2020, the startup is introducing two new sensors and a new method of lidar scanning which, it claims, is set to deliver “better sensing performance at a fraction of the cost of traditional lidar units.”

The aim is to make lidar easier and more affordable to integrate into products and applications. Livox has eyes on everything from autonomous driving to smart cities, mapping and mobile robotics. 

Livox’s lidar technology uses a new Non-Repetitive Scanning pattern. The method offers significant benefits over the traditional Repetitive Linear Scanning pattern favored by other lidar sensor providers.

Livox’ unique non-repetitive scanning patterns vs. a traditional mechanical linear scanning pattern.

The environment scanned by a Livox sensor increases as the laser explores new spaces within its Field of View (FOV). As seen in the image above, a Livox Mid-40 or Mid-100 sensor generates a flower-like scanning pattern to create a 3D image of the surrounding environment. Image fidelity increases rapidly over time.

The image above also shows the comparison of how conventional lidar sensors generate images: with horizontal linear scanning, which can run the risk of blind spots and cause some objects in their FOV to remain undetected, regardless of how long the scan lasts. With Lidar an important part of the future of autonomous systems, accurate obstacle detection is crucial. 

Livox’s scanning method enables nearly 100% FOV coverage with longer integration time – a feature the company claims doesn’t exist in any market alternatives today at this price point. 

Livox’s new Lidar sensors target the mass market

Today Livox has unveiled two new sensors, the Horizon and the Tele-15.

The Horizon has a detection range of up to 260 meters with a horizontal FOV (HFOV) of 81.7° which can cover 4 road lanes at a distance of 10 meters and its FOV coverage ratio is comparable with a 64-line mechanical lidar at the integration time of 0.1 sec. Using just five Horizon units enable full 360° coverage with only 5% of the cost of a 64-line mechanical lidar. 

The Tele-15 can scan 99.8% area within its 15° circular FOV at 0.1s which outperforms 128-line mechanical lidar sensors currently available on the market. It can also successfully detect an object up to 500 meters away, which is hardly achievable by human eyes or other sensors at this cost.

Livox sensors are able to provide a comparable solution at 1% of the price of current market alternatives because the design requires fewer high-cost components and does not use any expensive laser emitters or MEMS scanners. 

“The growth potential of the lidar industry has been hindered for too long by ultra-high costs and slow manufacturing rates,” said Henri Deng, Global Marketing Director at Livox.

“Livox seeks to change this by providing access to high-quality lidar systems that are easily integrated into a wide array of different use applications. Through our technology, we hope to be the catalyst for the rapid adoption of lidar in the quickly growing industries of autonomous driving, mobile robotics, mapping, surveying and more.”

DJI’s Open Innovation Program Bears Fruit

Through its Open Innovation Initiative, DJI provides promising startups with guidance, resources and financial support to solve industry challenges with new technology. Livox is one of the first success stories to come through the program.  

“Over the past 13 years, it has been DJI’s core mission to make advanced technology easy-to-use, safe and accessible, which we have accomplished most notably through our leading consumer and commercial drone product portfolio,” said Roger Luo, President at DJI.

“Livox was born from that same mission and passion for innovation. It is a dedicated team, first incubated within DJI, whose objective is to expand the application of our core technologies, and break barriers to the autonomous world, by working with the thriving ecosystem of innovators in mobile robotics to autonomous driving and beyond.”

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