LiDAR is a key ingredient in the overall sensing package required to make autonomous cars a reality (though Tesla would disagree), but it’s also prohibitively expensive, especially for companies just starting out, and researchers not tied to companies with deep pockets. That’s why Innoviz has created a new aftermarket LiDAR unit offering good performance at more budget-friendly prices, set to go into mass production starting early next year.
The solution is called InnovizPro, and will be created in partnership with Jabil, an electronics design and projection company that acts as a supplier to global consumer electronics and industrial tech companies. It’ll be a solid-sate LiDAR device, like the InnovizOne unit it revealed earlier this year targeting deployment in actual production vehicles designed for consumer use.
InnovizPro will offer high-definition 3D environment scanning, and is intended to help automakers and tier 1 suppliers develop autonomous tech that can later be used with production-ready equipment like the InnovizOne, which is on track for a Q1 2019 sample availability date.
Basically, Innoviz decided to take the current prototype it’s using in development of the InnovizOne and make it available to outside organizations and companies ahead of time, in a form that, while not production-ready, will still be far more affordable and performant than other existing solutions. Innoviz CEO and co-founder noted in a press release that “companies are currently spending tens of thousands of dollars on under-performing LiDAR solutions” for testing, which is likely a dig at Velodyne, whose LiDAR units adorn Uber test vehicles and have a per-unit cost of around $70,000.
No word on specific pricing of Innoviz’s solution, but given the bombast, you can expect it to be less than $70K. Plus, solid state means fewer moving parts, which should hopefully translate to fewer maintenance concerns and longer usable life. All good things when you’re engaged in autonomous vehicle development and testing.