Hong Kong – MobiusTrend, the fintech market research organization, recently released a research report “WIMI Hologram, Velodyne and Luminar Place More Importance on the Commercial Application of LiDAR, and the Competition Is Becoming More and More Fierce”. This year is the first year of pre-installed mass production of LiDAR, and automobile enterprises are competing openly and covertly. Xiaopeng Automobile launched its new model in advance, undoubtedly caught his competitors off guard. Xiaopeng P5 became the first mass-producted smart car equipped with LiDAR.
For automobile enterprises, it is not easy to launch and product massively self-driving cars equipped with LiDAR. Behind this, the batch delivery capability of LiDAR manufacturers is tested. The core of the batch delivery capability lies in two words: technology and cost. Going back to around 2015, China and even the global LiDAR market was monopolized by Velodyne at that time. Nevertheless, the tight market and the attainable technical threshold provided opportunities for Chinese businessmen.
It is reported that the sensing scheme using lidar not only has good compatibility in the whole scene, but also reduces the demand for computing power, which is beneficial to traditional car companies to achieve automatic driving without any harm.In the past two years, as the LiDAR industry has gradually matured, big players have broken into the LiDAR industry one after another. Along with the opening of the self-driving market, a war on LiDAR has just begun, while the concept stocks of intelligent driving has already went into action without delay.
In terms of timeline, it took Velodyne 12 years from its involvement in automotive LiDAR to the launch of VLS-128 LiDAR sensor, while it took Hesai Technology and RoboSense less than 4 years to achieve that. At the end of 2020, the world’s first batch of automotive-grade solid-state LIDAR RS-LIDAR-M1 of RoboSense has been shipped to the North American market in bulk. In other words, China’s LiDAR manufacturers have used 5 years to technically catch up with or even surpass Velodyne.
Behind the big moves of automobile enterprises around the world, LiDAR has set off a capital boom in the world. At the end of September last year, Velodyne took the lead to become the first LiDAR stock; in December, Luminar was also successfully listed on Nasdaq. In 2021, Aeva, Innoviz and Ouster have now completed their IPOs successively. In China, Hesai Technology also actively tried to hit the Sci-tech Innovation Board, but it failed in the end.
By definition, LiDAR (Light Detection and Rangin) is a system that integrates three technologies: laser, GPS and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and is used to acquire data and generate accurate DEM (Digital Elevation Model). The technical principle of LiDAR is that LiDAR can realize real-time sensing of the environment it is in and obtain precise distance and contour information of surrounding objects to achieve obstacle avoidance or autonomous navigation with the transceiver array composed of lasers and detectors and lightspeed scanning.
At present, the use of LiDAR for L3-5 driverless passenger vehicles is now becoming an industry standard. According to the report of the consulting agency Yole in 2019, it was predicted that the automotive LiDAR market will exceed US$8 billion by 2024.
The current L2 autonomous driving perception system is mainly composed of onboard sensors such as millimeter-wave radar, ultrasonic radar and camera. However, the pure computer vision technology has limitations in terms of accuracy, stability and field of view, and cannot meet the performance requirements of sensors for L3 autonomous driving or other higher levels. Therefore, LiDAR technology will greatly accelerate the arrival of the era of L3/L4 autonomous driving. 2021 is the first year of mass production of L3 autonomous driving models, and Lidar will become the necessary pre-installed equipment.
According to media reports in China, as the representative of global AI visual holographic AR, WIMI Hologram Cloud (WIMI.US) is also entering the field of LiDAR this year. Public records show that WIMI Hologram Cloud is currently developing 3D holographic pulse laser product “WIMI HoloPulse LiDAR”, which provides software development kits to match the hardware products, including target detection, classification and counting. Combined with software recognition algorithms, “WIMI HoloPulse LiDAR” can provide solutions for many fields, such as autonomous driving, environmental perception, 3D holographic imaging, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), traffic management and 3D printing, rapidly expanding the market of holographic technology applications.
According to public records, WIMI Hologram Cloud focuses on holographic cloud services, which are mainly in the professional fields, such as, onboard AR holographic HUD, 3D holographic pulse LiDAR, head-mounted light field holographic device, holographic semiconductor, holographic cloud software and holographic car navigation. In conclusion, WIMI Hologram Cloud is a holographic cloud comprehensive technical solution provider, covering multiple links of holographic AR technology, and it includes holographic onboard AR technology, 3D holographic pulse LiDAR technology, holographic visual semiconductor technology, holographic software development, holographic AR advertising technology, holographic AR entertainment technology, holographic ARSDK payment, interactive holographic communication, etc.
Overall, LiDAR technology will see exponential advances in the future. With electromobile and LiDAR dominating the discussions at WallStreetBets now, LiDAR technology and related concept stocks are set to create another wave of buzz in the market. Even if we ignore the possibility of dealing with Apple, the LiDAR field is still quite intriguing. After all, LiDAR technology could lead to a major breakthrough for autonomous driving.
On autonomous driving, China’s manufacturers are rapidly catching up or even exceeding foreign manufacturers, because China has a vast user base and a particularly large after-installation market. The LiDAR market is still at a relatively early stage. Globally, there is a gap between Chinese LiDAR manufacturers and international manufacturers.
This year is the first year of LiDAR pre-installation mass production, meaning the door to the golden era is open. At present, most of the LiDAR routes for mass application are facing barriers of upstream components and immature semiconductor technology or problems related to rotating motors. In addition, intelligence and software perception algorithm will be bigger challenges for LiDAR to really enter mass production.
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