The cost and advantage: About MEMS & Rotating mirror LiDAR

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MEMS Mirror Demo: Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Technology

MEMS LiDAR and rotating mirror Technologies:

MEMS LiDAR:

MEMS LiDAR (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems LiDAR) technology utilizes tiny micro-mirrors that can move and scan to direct laser beams. These micro-mirrors are controlled by electronic signals, enabling precise and rapid scanning of the laser. MEMS LiDAR offers advantages such as compact size, low power consumption, and the potential for mass production. It is commonly used in automotive LiDAR systems for autonomous driving applications.

MEMS Mirror Demo: Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Technology
MEMS mirrors are miniature electromechanical devices capable of precise movement, commonly used in applications such as laser scanning, displays, and optical communications.

Rotating Mirror LiDAR:

Rotating mirror technologies in LiDAR involve using mechanical mirrors that rotate to direct laser pulses in different directions. The rotating mirror reflects the laser beam, allowing it to scan the surrounding environment. This method is well-established and has been used in traditional LiDAR systems for several years.

Rotating Mirror Technology for LiDAR System
Rotating Mirror Technology for LiDAR System

1. MEMS and rotating mirrors are the two mainstream solutions. What is the structure of cost splitting?

Hesai AT128:

Hesai AT128 LiDAR Sensor: High-Performance Sensing Solution
The Hesai AT128 LiDAR sensor: A high-performance sensing solution for autonomous vehicles, robotics, and mapping applications.
  1. Light Source Cost: Using VCSEL light sources, the current cost is likely above $100, but with technological maturity and scale production, the cost is expected to decrease to around $5-60.
  1. Rotating Mirror Cost: Utilizing a one-dimensional rotating mirror, along with additional components such as spherical mirrors, non-spherical mirrors, and prisms, the cost is approximately $400-500.
  1. Receiver Cost: Implementing Sony’s solution for the receiver, the cost may be slightly higher than the light source, around $100-200.
  1. FPGA Cost: Approximately $30. Overall, the cost of the Hesai solution currently lies between $200 to $300, and it is anticipated to potentially decrease to around $150 in the future.

Robosense RS M1:

RoboSense M1-MEMS LiDAR: Advanced MEMS Technology
The RoboSense M1-MEMS LiDAR: Harnessing advanced MEMS technology for precise environmental perception in autonomous systems.
  1. MEMS Mirror Cost: Currently, it may be relatively expensive, around $300-400, but with mass production, the cost is expected to reduce to approximately 150 Chinese Yuan.
  1. Scanning Mirror Cost: Currently, it may be around $500, but in the future, it is expected to be in the range of $200-300.
  1. Light Source Cost: Utilizing Osram’s light sources, costing approximately $5.
  1. Receiver Cost: APD cost may be around $6-7 per unit, and considering packaging and other costs, the overall receiver cost may have an advantage.

The Robosense LiDAR solution has a relatively lower cost, and it is currently at the forefront of the industry. However, whether this advantage can be fully realized depends on factors such as the stability of the scanning mirror, algorithms, and other considerations. As technology advances and mass production takes place, the cost of different manufacturers’ solutions may vary, but currently, Robosense remains at the leading position in the LiDAR industry.

2. The future price trend of MEMS LiDAR and rotating mirror LiDAR?

Once the technical challenges of MEMS are overcome, it is anticipated that its cost will become more competitive. MEMS faces complexity in terms of engineering design compared to rotating mirror solutions. MEMS requires fewer light sources for two-dimensional scanning, while rotating mirror solutions may utilize more light sources and require more system architecture and algorithm adjustments.

The main reason for MEMS being cheaper is its usage of fewer core materials, such as a smaller number of light sources, leading to fewer corresponding drivers and data processing chips. Moreover, once the technical challenges of MEMS are resolved, the assembly complexity will decrease, making it more efficient. Therefore, MEMS has the potential to become more cost-effective than rotating mirror solutions in the long run, considering that both technologies mature.

3. What are the main considerations in the selection of MEMS LiDAR and rotating mirror LiDAR?

From the automotive manufacturers’ perspective, both MEMS and mirror-based LiDAR solutions are considered. MEMS solutions are being mass-produced, while mirror-based solutions are still in development. Some manufacturers, like Innovusion and Luminar, opt for the mirror-based approach. In the short term, cost is not the main concern for automotive manufacturers; their priority is a reliable and functional LiDAR system. Thus, they may not commit to a specific solution as there are limited choices available.

MEMS systems face stability issues, while mirror-based systems may have cost challenges due to their complex weighting structures. Automotive manufacturers prioritize three factors: reasonable pricing, effective performance, and assurance of quality.

Currently, automotive manufacturers are strategically investing in one or two LiDAR companies to secure a stake in the technology.

4. What are the main problems that need to be broken through in the technical route of MEMS? What efforts has the manufacturer made to make up for these shortcomings and deficiencies?

The technical route of MEMS LiDAR faces several crucial challenges. Firstly, the size of the MEMS galvanometer is limited by automotive-grade resonance, making it challenging to enlarge without compromising its performance. Additionally, achieving a large scanning angle while keeping the size small requires a delicate balance.

MEMS Mrrior
MEMS Mrrior

Manufacturers like Robosense and Neuvition address the issue of insufficient field of view by using multiple light sources that illuminate the MEMS mirror simultaneously. This enables a broader scanning range of 20-30 degrees, compared to only 20 degrees with a single light source.

However, there are still concerns about the stability and reliability of MEMS scanning. The fabrication process, particularly in obtaining high-quality MEMS chips, remains a key hurdle. Currently, stable production is mainly done abroad, leading to potential delivery uncertainties.

Despite these challenges, MEMS LiDAR holds great promise for the future. Continued research and collaboration with experienced fabrication facilities are expected to overcome technical limitations and fully unlock the potential of MEMS-based LiDAR solutions.

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