Valeo Debuts New Lidars, EV Tech at CES 2022
Next-gen sensors, e-axles, 48-V systems and a multitude of comfort-and-convenience innovations were unveiled by the French Tier 1.
The breadth of Valeo’s news announcements during CES 2022 effectively showcased just how much the show has turned into an automotive tech event. From autonomous driving technologies to powertrain electrification to adapting to a world with too much COVID in it, Valeo had something to offer vehicle makers through its sensors and software.
Valeo's big introduction at CES was the world premiere of its third-generation lidar scanner. Valeo deputy CEO Christophe Périllat said during Valeo's digital press conference that lidar tech is required to move automated driver assistance systems (ADAS) beyond SAE Level 2. Valeo should know, since Périllat claimed that one in three new cars produced worldwide today is fitted with the company’s driving assistance technologies.
"The overall ADAS market is set to grow three times by 2030," he said. "What is the challenge of ADAS? It's to make mobility safer and lidar is a key part of it. There will be no [SAE] Level 3 autonomy without a lidar sensor."
One of the first production vehicles capable of Level 3 autonomy is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class; it uses Valeo's current (second-gen) SCALA lidar technology. Valeo's third-gen lidar adds a predictive algorithm to track objects – vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians – when they move out of sight, anticipating their trajectories, even at speeds up to 130 km/h (81 mph). The scanner is also able to use the cloud to alert nearby cars of potential road hazards. Périllat said the third-gen lidar could be on the road in new "autonomous" cars starting in 2024.
Near-field lidar (NFL)
In addition to the third-generation lidar described above, Valeo also unveiled a new solid-state flash lidar for near-field application. This NFL provides 360-degree near-field vision for autonomous delivery droids or robotaxis. The idea for these driverless vehicles is to create a "safety cocoon" around the vehicle, Périllat said, using unparalleled vertical and horizontal views and image resolution. Valeo said that using this kind of NFL provides redundancy with other sensors, making automated driving safer by eliminating blind spots.
Powering new EVs
On the powertrain side, the most exciting new electric passenger car with Valeo components is the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which uses a Valeo-Siemens eAutomotive electric powertrain with two motors. The rear eAxle provides 300 kW of power, while the front axle contributes 170 kW. At CES Valeo also displayed an all-electric 48V motorcycle and a 48V electric cycle-assistance set-up called the Valeo Smart eBike System. The new e-bike weighs less than 38 lb. (17 kg) and its overall performance is roughly equivalent to that of a 125-cc IC-engine machine, the company said.
Valeo also showed off an autonomous, intelligent last-mile delivery robot called the eDeliver4U. This droid uses Valeo's electric portrait systems sensors, software, sensor cleaning systems and lighting systems to move on its own and communicate with its environment. The eDeliver4U also uses a 48-V system and can travel at around 7.5 mph (12 km/h) with about 60 miles’ range (96.5 km) between charges.
Valeo said a 48-V system is particularly well suited to small urban vehicles (its 2018 48-V system was installed in a small city car), and it offers a cost-effective way of electrifying vehicles. One reason is that so much more of the on-board energy gets used, with over 90% of the power generated by the electric motor reaching the rear wheel compared to about a third from an IC engine.
During Valeo's CES media briefing, Périllat noted that by the end of 2022, nearly 100 electric and plug-in hybrid models will be fitted with the company’s powertrain systems, which will be a growing source of revenue in the coming years. "For Valeo, electrification means greater value," he said. "Cumulative auto intake for vehicle electrification reached over 26 billion euros. Our content per car is multiplied by two for low voltage [less than 60V] solutions, by three for vehicle thermal management systems and by nine for high voltage solutions."
Valeo at CES demonstrated a number of technologies that make the in-vehicle experience more comfortable and convenient. An intelligent lighting system not only lights up the road in front of the car, but also uses augmented-reality (AR) alerts on the windshield to alert the driver to potential hazards by pointing out cyclists on the side of the road or known potholes.
The Valeo Safe Insight technology is meant to keep vehicle occupants safe as well, combining a driver monitoring system with interior sensors to detect if someone is left inside a parked car (a child, for example). Valeo also won a CES 2022 Innovation Award for its UV Air Purifier, which was designed to sterilize the air in buses and other public transportation vehicles. Valeo said its system can eliminate bacteria, germs and more than 95% of viruses, including COVID-19. Over 2,000 buses around the world have already been equipped with this system.
Valeo has also adapted the sensors used to monitor the thermal comfort for car passengers to develop a health risk assessment terminal. Périllat said this machine can detect COVID-19 symptoms and offers a contactless first diagnosis that's as accurate as a PCR test.
"We have combined radar, camera and AI technologies that were initially developed to monitor driver drowsiness and tailor thermal comfort to each user," he said. "This system, which was developed in collaboration with health organizations, is a natural extension of all the technologies that we are inventing to transform the car into a sort of health cocoon, as our UV purifier." Valeo is conducting new clinical trials to improve this terminal, and is also working on a portable solution to monitor vital signs without patient contact.
Valeo's VoyageXR Panorama vision technology moves from the inside to the outside, offering what Périllat called the "magic of a drone without a drone." This augmented technology takes the video feeds from the cameras around the vehicle and splices them together in a live video feed that, along with an animated view of the car itself, can be shared with friends to bring them along with you, virtually, on your journey, Périllat said.
The drone view can also be helpful to those inside the vehicle by making parking easier or, and this is the forward-looking aspect, making it easier to remotely drive an autonomous vehicle. “This is the future of augmented and virtual reality," Périllat said. "From your tablet you can pilot this magic drone that's flying above your car."