Cepton Technologies has announced that it has begun shipping its Vista-P60 lidar units. All of Cepton’s lidar units feature the company’s patented Micro-Motion Technology to provide high-resolution and long-range imaging to enable all levels of autonomy.
The new Vista-P60 is currently available and shipping now. The 120-line-equivalent scanner delivers 200m of range and 0.25° of spatial resolution. Cepton also claims that the unit is significantly smaller than most solutions on the market and uses less than 10W, allowing auto makers to seamlessly integrate the unit into the vehicle body.
Cepton will also showcase its existing Vista-M120 and -X120. The Vista-M120 model manages a 120° field of view (FOV) and 150m range despite being the size of a typical box of crayons. The compact design can be worked into a vehicle’s headlights, tail-lights or side mirrors, giving designers more freedom to bring intelligence and autonomy into vehicle designs.
The Vista-X120 extends the range to 200m at a 10% reflectivity target and maintains a 120° FOV. This wide FOV enables object detection, tracking and localization in a much wider area.
Exhibitor Q&A with Juergen Ludwig, director of business development
Which projects is Cepton currently working on?
While our focus is clearly on automotive lidar sensors for all levels of AVs, other markets – such as mapping with drones or UAVs, robotics, industrial automation, and security/surveillance – benefit from our unique Micro Motion Technology. It enables us to design and build lidar sensors for long range, with a large field of view and with high resolution, and to combine these qualities with a small form factor and low power consumption. All this together makes Cepton lidars suitable for a wide variety of applications such as autonomous shuttles, cars, vans and trucks and also enables robots and AGVs to sense distances in their environment.
We also have projects in the railway sector and in road infrastructure – such as toll gates and observation technology for crossings and complex road structures. Vista-Edge, our edge processing system, makes it easy for customers to evaluate and test sensors when prototyping and running proof-of-concept projects. It also allows them to experience the density and range of Cepton's lidar sensor point cloud.
Which products will you be presenting at the expo?
Cepton will showcase the whole product portfolio starting with the Vista-P60, our current standard automotive lidar. We will also have our new, smaller form factor Vista-M120 and our high-end Vista-X120 with 120° x 25° field of view on the stand.
Another highlight is the recently released Vista-Edge Lidar Evaluation Kit (pictured), which combines a Cepton lidar sensor with Nvidia's Jetson TX2-based microcomputer. It is a true plug-and-play device which includes all necessary software and tools needed to view and analyze a Vista lidar's 3D point cloud.
What do you make of Elon Musk’s comments that anyone relying on lidar is ‘doomed’?
Camera can be the sensor and resolve 99% of the road conditions. If you add radar and camera together – like what Tesla is doing, it will likely take care of 99.9% of the situations. Lidar is there to take care of the rest of the probability that camera and radar will miss. Even though this is a tiny fraction of the probability, it could be the make or break factor for an autonomous deployment.
It is imperative that the first AV on the public road should be safer than a human driver. In the same way that a passenger does not normally think about his safety when he boards an airplane, the safety requirement for an AV should be at least at the same level. As lidar sensors become cost-effective and aesthetically acceptable, it is rather irresponsible to exclude such a device from the technology roadmap.
What are the advantages of lidar compared to other sensing systems?
First of all, lidar is a complementary technology for AVs. The combination of all three main sensing technologies – camera, radar and lidar – provides a comprehensive representation of the vehicle environment and enables the required quality of perception. The strength of lidar is the exact measurement of distance and direction it can achieve. A lidar can tell you that the stopped car in front of you is 197 meters away and it even can tell you whether it is in your lane or if it’s on the hard shoulder. Cameras have challenges with the distance, radar with the angular direction of an object. On the other hand, a lidar sensor is not very good at sensing the speed of moving objects. Combining the data of all three sensor types through sensor fusion compensates each technology’s specific shortcoming.