CES 2024: Aeva Launches 4D Lidar for SAE Level 4 Trucks

Daimler Truck and Torc will integrate Aeva’s next-gen Atlas sensors on the “autonomous-ready” Freightliner Cascadia platform.

Aeva will supply its latest Atlas frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) 4D lidar for the Freightliner Cascadia and collaborate with Torc to integrate the technology. (Aeva)

Daimler Truck announced that Aeva will supply its latest Atlas 4D lidar for the Freightliner Cascadia truck platform and collaborate with Torc Robotics to integrate the technology. The collaboration begins in the first quarter of 2024, with Aeva’s start of production by 2026.

The Atlas sensor is powered by the 4th-gen CoreVision lidar-on-chip module, which uses silicon photonics instead of the optical fiber systems found in conventional time-of-flight lidar sensors. (Aeva)

“Selecting the right lidar technology is a crucial strategic decision to safely deploy autonomous trucks on the road,” Joanna Buttler, Daimler Truck’s head of Global Autonomous Technology Group, said in a press release announcing the arrangement. “We are convinced that Aeva with its cutting-edge and reliable technology is the right production partner for lidar sensors and has the manufacturing capabilities to scale along with us. [This] announcement therefore represents a key puzzle piece on our path towards commercialization.”

Daimler Truck plans to bring SAE Level 4 autonomous trucks to the U.S. market by 2027. The OEM intends to integrate the long- and ultra-long-range lidar sensors directly in its production process, so trucks roll out of its plants autonomous-ready with no need for customers to retrofit sensors.

Torc will sell its Virtual Driver technology and supporting Mission Control services as a subscription to customers. Its driving software will use Aeva’s perception software, built around Aeva’s “instant velocity data” that reportedly detects objects faster, further away and with higher accuracy. One feature of the perception-software package is Aeva Ultra Resolution, which the company claims provides a real-time, “camera-like” image with up to 20 times the resolution of conventional 3D lidar sensors.

The Aeva X1 system-on-chip processor is designed with automotive-grade functional safety and cybersecurity. (Aeva)

Aeva’s frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) 4D lidar, which was on display at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, uses a low-power continuous laser beam — instead of laser pulses — to simultaneously measure range and velocity for every point, enabling automated vehicles to discriminate between static and dynamic points and determine the precise velocity of dynamic objects. The Mountain View, California-based company integrates all key lidar components — including transmitter, detector and a new optical processing interface chip — onto a silicon photonics chip in a compact module called Aeva CoreVision.

The new Aeva X1 system-on-chip processor integrates data acquisition, point cloud processing, scanning system and application software into a single mixed-signal processing chip. The company claims that its two new silicon innovations allow Atlas to be over 70% smaller and consume four times less power than its previous generation lidar sensor. These enhancements enable operation without active cooling, according to Aeva, and allow for integrations in-cabin behind the windshield, on the vehicle’s roofline or in the grille.

Atlas reportedly delivers a 25% greater detection range for low-reflectivity targets and a maximum detection range of up to 500 meters (1,640 ft). The company also claims that direct sunlight, signals from other lidar sensors and retroreflective objects like street signs will not interfere with its Atlas sensors.

Daimler Truck and Torc have worked closely with Aeva engineers over the past few years to demonstrate the lidar technology in real-world, highway-speed use cases. Aeva says that the selection for the Cascadia autonomous-truck platform is its first major OEM production design win.