MEMS scanning mirror produces large field of view for LiDARs

Business news |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

Startup Omnitron Sensors, the pioneer in MEMS sensing technology for high-volume, low-cost markets, has validated its process for a fast, rugged, low-cost microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) scanning mirror. The new optical subsystem meets the most demanding requirements of the LiDARs used in automotive advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), drones and robotics.

Targeting a LiDAR subsystems market predicted by Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, to reach $2B by 2027, the MEMS mirror will produce a 2x to 3x larger field of view than other MEMS mirrors used in long-range LiDARs. As a step-scanning mirror, the Omnitron MEMS device is designed for rugged high-vibration automotive and aerial environments — a competitive advantage over the spinning mirrors offered by other vendors. In addition, the step-scanning mirror is built to outperform older optical subsystems, including voice coils, spinning polygons, and Galvos — all of which are slower, bulkier, 10x-100x more expensive, and prone to failure.

“Our executive team has spent decades in sensor design, working on projects at Google (X) Wing avionics, Google Quantum, Tesla Model 3, US Navy Research Labs, and Lumedynev — which Google acquired during my tenure,” said Eric Aguilar, co-founder and CEO, Omnitron Sensors. “With so much untapped potential in MEMS sensors still before us, we saw how changing the process technology and packaging techniques—which we call a new topology for MEMS—produces measurable improvements in size, cost, robustness, reliability, manufacturability and time to market. Our MEMS scanning mirror for LiDARs proves out our IP, solving the most serious issues that plague today’s LiDARs for autonomous navigation. And based on the positive market reception we have received, we’re meeting a vital need for long-lasting, high-performing, rugged and cost-effective LiDAR platforms.”

With its MEMS process verified through fabrication, Omnitron Sensors is gaining the attention of investors. L’ATTITUDE Ventures invested $1.6M in seed-round funding to Omnitron in Q4 2021.

Manufacturing MEMS devices is notoriously difficult. Problems with size, reliability, durability and repeatability — and the fact that process technology is unique for each new MEMS device — make MEMS manufacturing expensive and slows design-to-delivery cycles. Core Omnitron IP solves these challenges. As a new topology for MEMS, the IP rearranges manufacturing processes and supports them with new packaging techniques. This speeds volume production of a wide range of small, low-cost, precise MEMS sensors — from scanning mirrors and inertial measurement units (IMUs) to microphones, pressure sensors, and telecom switches — through established MEMS foundries.


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