Engineering 101

LiDAR is Facing Headwinds: is Diversification the Solution?

“The price drop in LiDAR in the past three years has been massive,” said Pierrick Boulay, Technology & Market Analyst, Solid-state Lighting at Yole Développement (Yole). “Indeed, it is the result of strategies by different companies and not due to the result of mass-production. Volumes have not evolved significantly in these three years and mass adoption of LiDAR still has to happen. However, this price drop of LiDAR has a significant impact on market forecast. At Yole, we expect that the unit price of LiDAR will continue to decline, and large volumes will be needed in order to maintain the market.”

This year, Yole and its partner System Plus Consulting investigate in depth the LiDAR industry and its disruptive technologies. The two companies combine their market and technical expertise to convey their vision. To support this collaboration, Yole and System Plus Consulting are part of the Imaging & LiDAR for Automotive Forum 2020 taking place on September 10th, 2020 at Shenzhen, China.

The market research & strategy consulting company Yole releases today the LiDAR for Automotive and Industrial Applications report. In this 2020 update, Yole’s experts deliver an in-depth understanding of the industry status, taking into account the technology evolution and COVID-19 outbreak.

Including market and revenue forecasts, market and technology trends, this report offers an application-related focus on key existing markets as well as the most promising emerging ones. This study delivers an accurate analysis of the LiDAR business value chain, infrastructure, and players as well as the LiDAR supply chain with partnerships between OEMs, tier-1s and LiDAR manufacturers.

In parallel, System Plus Consulting’s analysts provide an intensive analysis of the pulsed laser and the photodiode developed by Hamamatsu and embedded in the automotive Horizon LiDAR from Livox. This report includes a complete technical and cost analysis of both optoelectronic components. In addition, the company announces the complete profile of the full LiDAR system developed by Livox, the Horizon LiDAR, through its track offering.

Indeed, System Plus Consulting provides unmatched intelligence into numerous systems including phones, tablets, wearables, smart home devices, and components. Such teardown profiles include pinpoint power measurements, detailed parts lists, block diagrams, x-rays, and high-resolutions photos. Each step of the teardown process is carefully documented by System Plus Consulting’s experts to present detailed insights into component parts and costs, as well as chip system functionality.

In this complex and rapidly evolving environment, Yole’s analysts predict that the LiDAR market for automotive and industrial applications will be $1.7bn in 2020. Growth is expected to be 19%. Yole’s forecast is a revenue of $3.8bn in 2025.

Automotive applications are expected to be the main driver for LiDAR in the next five years, providing $1.8bn growth between 2019 and 2025. With several partnerships between LiDAR manufacturers and car manufacturers, the market research and strategy consulting company Yole expects 3.2% of personal cars to adopt LiDAR by 2025.

On the other hand, the impact of robotic cars on LiDAR will be more modest due to lower deployment of robotic cars than once expected. LiDAR for personal cars could also be jeopardized. The COVID-19 crisis is putting financial pressure on car manufacturers. Regulations imposing reduced carbon emissions are pushing investments towards electrification. Finally, the ambition of Tesla to rapidly achieve autonomous cars without LiDAR could make LiDAR less essential in the coming years.

Alexis Debray, PhD. Technology & Market Analyst, MEMS, Sensors & Photonics at Yole asserted: “A new trend in the LiDAR business appeared a few years ago, which might dramatically change the shape of the LiDAR market, namely dropping prices. Velodyne has announced a plan to reach an average unit price of $600 by 2024, from $17,900 in 2017.”

And the story does not stop here. Indeed, Chinese LiDAR companies, which usually have LiDAR unit prices one-fifth of that of other companies and usually below US$1,000, are gaining market share and expanding their business. LiDAR with lower unit prices is expected to enter new industrial applications including factory, logistics and security. However, because of lower LiDAR unit prices, the industrial segment is expected to have moderate growth between 2019 and 2025, expanding from US$390 million to US$567 million.

“LiDAR technologies could be adopted for most robots and smart facilities,” said Boulay from Yole.

Since the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, vehicles have been a major application for 3D real-time LiDAR. In 2017, Audi equipped some of its cars with the Valeo Scala, a long-range LiDAR. At the end of 2018, Waymo launched Waymo One, its robotaxi service equipped with its own mid-range and long-range LiDAR. Continental has announced short-range flash LiDAR for 2020. Aimed at ADAS cars, it could also equip robotaxis or even industrial platforms. Other LiDAR manufacturers that have partnership with car manufacturers, such as Innoviz, Velodyne and Luminar, are targeting long-range applications.

As a key player in the LiDAR industry, Hamamatsu has developed photodiodes and lasers for Livox’s Horizon LiDAR.

According to Sylvain Hallereau, Project Manager Integrated Circuits, Power Semiconductors and LEDs at System Plus Consulting and author of the Hamamatsu Photodiode and Laser in Livox’s Horizon LiDAR report: “LiDARs are manufactured around four main components: the pulsed laser diode, avalanche photodiodes, opto-mechanical system (to scan the environment in front of the car), and the processor.”

The LiDAR sensing module includes a custom six-photodiode array die from Hamamatsu. These optoelectronic components have been specifically developed for LiDAR applications. The design is particularly optimized to increase the sensitivity of the six avalanche photodiodes, states System Plus Consulting in its new reverse costing report. The photodiode dies are assembled in a package with a 905nm narrow bandpass filter.

In parallel, industrial applications of LiDAR have a longer history, with topographic applications dating from 1970s.

This business is well-established and operated by large companies, explains Yole in its 2020 LiDAR report. Mining applications started to develop in 2008 with Komatsu and Caterpillar offering autonomous dump trucks. Their positions as solution and service providers have helped them operate these fleets.

Recently many new industrial applications have been emerging for LiDAR, including warehouse AGVs, terminal AGVs, delivery robots and drones, autonomous forklifts, inspection robots and drones, intelligent traffic systems, security and soon to come autonomous trucks and smart farming. Yole has announced a 31% volume CAGR between 2020 and 2025 for logistics and other industrial applications.

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