Automotive OEMs are accelerating their efforts to bring SAE Level 2 and Level 3 active safety and semi-autonomous driving solutions to mass market within the 2020 to 2025 time frame. As a result, an increasing number of system developers are turning to solid-state LiDAR (SSL) sensor solutions to achieve the highest level of system reliability and redundancy.
The automotive industry’s critical need for cost-effective, high-performance sensing solutions is greatly benefitting LeddarTech, a developer of automotive-grade SSL solutions for the general automotive market. The first half of LeddarTech’s 2018 fiscal year (ended 31 March 2018) was transformative for the organization, marked by ongoing expansion activities aimed at supporting a growing number of strategic Tier-1 clients and OEM projects, in addition to significant product milestones and achievements.
Managing accelerated growth
LeddarTech is in accelerated-growth mode following a successful US$101M (CAN$130M) financing round completed at the end of fiscal year 2017. The company, which grew its team by over 70% last fiscal year, added another 33 employees over the last two quarters. Intensive recruitment activities are ongoing, with more than 20 open positions currently available. Once these positions have been filled, the company’s total headcount will be 125. These hirings, primarily within the company’s growing R&D and automotive product teams, further support the LeddarCore SoC development program and ongoing commercial partnership projects.
To support business ramp-up and its growing team, the company has also expanded its corporate headquarters—doubling its footprint in the process. The organization has also initiated the process toward ISO 9001: 2015 certification, which is expected to be completed by the end of the 2018 calendar year.
To bolster this rapid expansion of its activities, LeddarTech has appointed industry veteran Frantz Saintellemy as its new President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). With over 20 years of experience in the automotive, semiconductor and sensor sectors, Saintellemy brings extensive industry knowledge to LeddarTech. One of Saintellemy’s first mandates was to oversee the reorganization of LeddarTech’s activities into two distinct business units, Automotive Solutions and Module Solutions, in order to better address the unique needs of customers from different market segments. The new COO is also implementing automotive quality and test operations, a key requirement for this demanding market.
Both units are aligned with LeddarTech’s mission to solve intelligent mobility sensing application challenges, with the Automotive Solutions unit focusing on the development of advanced automotive-grade LiDAR solutions, and the Module Solutions unit providing off‑the‑shelf industrial‑grade SSL modules to other mobility markets, such as the intelligent transport system (ITS), drone and industrial vehicle segments.
Product and business highlights
Major milestones in LeddarTech’s automotive LiDAR development roadmap were achieved on schedule during the first half of fiscal 2018. Highlights include:
- Delivery of the first LeddarCore LCA2 system‑on‑chip (SoC) engineering product samples
- Engineering samples of the first complete LiDAR sensors based on the LCA2 SoC
- Engineering samples of a discrete implementation of the next-generation LeddarCore LCA3 SoC
- Initiation of the LCA3 SoC integration program, launched through a signed development agreement with semiconductor expert Integrated Device Technology (IDT)
Together, the LCA2 and LCA3 LiDAR engines deliver the required LiDAR configurations, performances and price points needed to implement SAE Levels 1 through 5 of autonomous driving. These SoCs were highly prominent at CES 2018, where LeddarTech was joined by multiple co‑exhibiting partners at the special Leddar Ecosystem Pavilion. Implementations of LeddarCore SoC technology were also featured in the booths of strategic partners, including Magneti Marelli, Osram, Optis, TriLumina, Renesas Electronics and AutonomouStuff.
Prestigious industry recognition was associated with these product and business achievements, as follows:
- CES 2018, Las Vegas – Innovation Award Honoree in two categories for the LeddarCore LCA2 SoC: Embedded Technologies and Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology
- AD Awards 2018, Berlin – Runner-up, Most Innovative Active Safety or ADAS Technology/Product/Service category for the LeddarCore LCA2 SoC
- Fidéides 2018, Quebec – High-Tech Company of the Year distinction, presented at this awards ceremony hosted by the Quebec City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIQ) to promote regional entrepreneurship, innovation and business excellence
- In addition, LeddarTech’s Series C financing round was recognized by the international media as the third-largest venture capital deal of the year in Canada.
In the first half of its fiscal year, LeddarTech’s general-purpose LiDAR module solutions also experienced growing customer traction, with design wins in a variety of mobility-related applications, such as obstacle detection with driver-alert technology (for public transit buses), collision avoidance (for autonomous shuttles, commercial drone obstacle avoidance and altimetry), pedestrian crossing automation, and vehicle profiling for e-tolling systems. During this period, LeddarTech showcased its innovative end-to-end SSL solutions at two of the biggest international ITS events: ITS World Congress (Montreal) in October 2017, and Intertraffic (Amsterdam) in March 2018.
Market trends and highlights
Recent reports from industry analysts on LiDAR market opportunity confirm the strategic position of SSL technology in terms of enabling mass-market autonomous driving deployments.
Demand for LiDAR in the automotive market has been rising significantly, as confirmed by the latest data from Infinium Global Research forecasting a 35% CAGR over the period from 2017 to 2023. According to Technavio, a leading market research company with global coverage, LiDAR is the sensor of choice for automotive driving applications, with industry experts confirming its necessity for self-driving cars. Transparency Market Research came to the same conclusion in a recent press release stating that demand for solid-state technology is expected to propel the multibillion automotive LiDAR sensor market, in turn taking a majority of market share from expensive mechanical scanners. And, in its just-released market report overview, technology and market analyst firm Yole Développement expects the global automotive LiDAR market to reach $5bn by 2023 and $28bn by 2032.
Indeed, LiDAR technology has already fortified its position in achieving Level 3 and Level 4 (semi-autonomous and autonomous) vehicle automation, with nearly all major automotive manufacturers working toward the production of autonomous driving vehicles. McKinsey & Company research points in this direction, with the firm’s most disruptive scenario for 2030 forecasting that 35% of all cars sold at this time will include conditional automation (Level 3), with 15% offering high automation (Level 4).