Baraja in the US is shipping A samples of all the integrated components necessary to build a Doppler LiDAR for automotive applications.
Baraja has developed a software defined doppler Random Modulated Continuous Wave (RMCW) LiDAR it calls Spectrum-Scan that it plans to ship to automotive customers in 2025.
RMCW uses a continuous wave laser and modulate it with a pseudo-random binary sequence. The returned signal would be correlated against the known sequence and the delay would indicate the range to target, and this is robust to temperature, vibration, and aging effects.
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RMCW is also able to produce instantaneous velocity information per-pixel, also known as Doppler velocity. Having velocity in a point cloud enables machine learning techniques to make extremely informed classification decisions, as it becomes trivial to separate moving objects from stationary objects. This advanced feature is simply not possible with conventional LiDAR, and requires significantly augmented technology to extract the instantaneous velocity, which requires detecting a frequency shift that is roughly 1/10,000,000th of the carrier frequency.
This allows low-speed electronics to achieve the same pulse performance used by frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDARs that use much higher speed analog electronics and is has high immunity to interference. This can be modulated by the software so the LiDAR system could actively change its RMCW modulation on-the-fly in response to signals coming in from the environment.
The Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (SOA) integrates the amplifier chip, together with a custom-developed high-efficiency Thermo-electric cooler into a hermetically sealed and automotive-grade package and is able to amplify the laser light to achieve the >200m range requirements on a mass-produced chip process. It also has 50 to 80x smaller and lower power consumption compared to fiber amplifiers used by legacy 1550nm LiDAR, including Baraja’s own Off-Road first generation product.
The Bidirectional Optical Sub-Assembly (BOSA) integrates three types of chips in an automotive-grade, hermetically sealed and temperature controlled enclosure that measures 3×3.5cm. There is an InP laser diode, a homodyne receiver chip built using silicon photonics and the transimpedance amplifier built in silicon.
These, plus micro optics and automotive-grade thermo-electric coolers deliver an end-to-end solution to produce and receive the wavelength-tuneable laser light that is the hallmark of Spectrum-Scan to partially integrate the beam steering requirements of the LiDAR.
“Multiple heterogeneous sub-systems are contained in a LiDAR, this would require each sub-system’s integration via completely different classes of chips and using different processes. Baraja announces today that all the different chips and integrated components (Tx, Rx, Amplification, Processing and Steering) to build the highest performance LiDAR offering, including Doppler velocity, are now available as A-Samples for integration” said Federico Collarte, Baraja CEO.
”We’ve made it really simple to plug-and-play the components to get the best performance LiDAR and the beauty of the solution is that the technologies developed to get to these chips self-reinforce and make possible further integration in the future”.
Developing optical sub-assemblies and chips can take around 36 months without a respin.
“I’m pleased to share that now with our A-Samples available, we’re right on track to launching Spectrum HD 2025 C-samples/General Availability in 2025, and if you want to have access to this truly transformational technology it’s a great time to work together” said Cibby Pulikkaseril, Baraja CTO.