As the autonomous vehicle industry begins to gather steam, manufacturers of lidar — short for light detection and ranging — are trying to do more with less.
Cepton (NASDAQ: CPTN), one of the few publicly traded lidar companies in the U.S., on Tuesday unveiled the Vista-X120 Plus, billed as “the world’s slimmest software definable, top-end automotive lidar for real-time adaptive 3D perception.”
In other words, the system can be controlled or configured remotely via software, is well-suited for cars and vans, and uses sensors to identify obstacles both near and far.
But the Vista-X120 Plus’ real differentiator is its size. With a height of just 30 millimeters, the hardware component of the system can be placed on a vehicle during the OEM phase or at a later time without affecting its appearance.
And compared to Cepton’s Vista-X90 lidar, Vista-X120 Plus processes data at five times the rate and boasts a field of view that is 30 degrees wider — all while being half its height. Operators can also use software to alter the sensor’s region of interest (ROI) to as wide as 120 degrees and as high as 25 degrees.
“The Vista-X120 Plus’ upgraded scanning mechanism enables extremely dense point clouds, while simplifying software algorithms for efficient sensor calibration and dynamic perception,” said Mark McCord, CTO and co-founder of Cepton. “Our proprietary ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] chip enables optimal signal processing to further maximize lidar efficiency and performance. The tunable ROI helps the vehicle perception better focus on potential hazards across different driving scenarios.”
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Another core feature of Vista-X120 Plus is its low energy consumption — it uses under 18 watts of power, which allows it to “see” up to a range of over 650 feet at 10% reflectivity, a measure of how well the sensor detects objects that reflect little light. In other words, only 10% of the light from the sensor needs to be reflected by the object for it to be “seen.”
“In spite of its significantly elevated performance and flexibility, the Vista-X120 Plus consumes less than 18 W of power, which is exceptional for long-range lidars and will be important for integration into electric vehicles,” McCord added.
For volume production of the Vista-X120 Plus, Cepton’s target price point is below $500. Combined with the system’s range, flexibility and off-the-shelf appeal for OEMs, that will make mass market adoption easier, the company argued.
“Utilizing OEM-validated building blocks, the Vista-X120 Plus aims to enhance vehicle safety across all levels of automation,” said Jun Pei, co-founder and CEO. “This path-breaking lidar is positioned to quickly hit the mass market and enable the precision needed for autonomous driving at a safety level that every consumer deserves.”
Cepton will hold live demonstrations of the Vista-X120 Plus at CES 2023 in Las Vegas from Thursday to Sunday. The system is an honoree of the event’s Innovation Award in the Vehicle Tech & Advanced Mobility category.
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