Just recently, ZF has purchased a 40 percent stake in Ibeo Automotive Systems, a Hamburg-based firm that specializes in lidar technology and the development of environmental recognition software with a specific focus on applications for autonomous driving. Included in Ibeo’s customers are a number of leading global automakers.
According to Dr. Stefan Sommer, ZF’s chief executive officer, Lidar provides them with access to a core technology for environmental and object recognition. He says that Lidar expands their current sensor portfolio of camera and radar technologies, and furthermore, Ibeo’s fusion of these three sensor technologies offers excellent results in environmental awareness and forms the basis for autonomous driving.
An acronym for “light detection and ranging”, lidar represents a procedure in which a light pulse is emitted to determine a distance based on light speed and runtime. Lidar is an optical method for gauging speed and distance that is extremely similar to radar, except that laser pulses are utilized instead of radio waves.
In partnership with ZF, Ibeo will make the next technological leap and a huge step for vehicle applications. The lidar generation will reproduce a three-dimensional image of the environment without the rotating mirrors contained in current lidar systems. With solid state technology, lidar technology will become more compact and simpler to integrate into the vehicle.
Sommer explains that their central theme at ZF is “See — Think — Act,” a philosophy which stresses how they are equipping the vehicles of tomorrow with new senses and more intelligence. To attain this, they are progressively filling in the remaining gaps in their technology portfolio. “With lidar technology and sensor fusion, we are able to strengthen the eyes and brain of future generations of vehicles and thus move a step closer to realizing the vision of accident-free driving.”
Commenting on ZF’s minority interest in the company, Ibeo’s CEO, Dr. Ulrich Lages says that they are very much anticipating to collaborating with ZF. He notes that they now have a very strong partner which is increasingly shaping the megatrends of efficiency, safety and autonomous driving. “With our comprehensive know-how, we can enable all driver assistance applications up to highly automated driving with 3-D lidar technology.”
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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