(Adds details on pricing, executive comments)
By Eric Auchard and Harro Ten Wolde
FRANKFURT Oct 11 Infineon Technologies AG
has acquired Dutch electronics company Innoluce BV, a
designer of miniature "lidar" laser-scanning modules that the
German chip giant says can help it to cut dramatically the cost
of sensor systems for driverless cars.
The deal will help to reduce the cost of light detection and
ranging sensors (lidar) for use in guidance systems for
mass-market vehicles, the head of the German company's
automotive business said on Tuesday .
Infineon can deliver lidar for use in fully autonomous
driving over the next five years for $25, a tiny fraction of the
thousands of dollars the technology now costs, automotive chief
Peter Schiefer told investors on a conference call.
"We intend to make lidar an affordable feature for every
new-built car worldwide," Schiefer said.
Lidar employs laser beams to measure the distance to objects
near a vehicle, enabling car control systems to identify road
ways, traffic signs, pavement markings, and overhead bridges and
other potential obstacles.
Infineon said lidar, together with its existing radar and
camera sensors, gives it the three complimentary building blocks
needed for more advanced driver assistance features and for
eventual driverless navigation systems due within five years.
Schiefer said lidar provided important back-up features in
the event camera or radar sensors fail to detect on-coming
"It is not just the camera and the radar. The contribution
of lidar has to do with redundancy requirements," he said.
As a result, the company forecasts it can charge far less
for lidar than it will for camera and radar. It estimated camera
modules in autonomous cars would average around $195 per
vehicle, with radar adding another $165 and lidar just $25.
Infineon estimates the total bill for materials for chips
will average $550 per driverless car.
Early versions of lidar developed by Silicon Valley-based
firm Velodyne that were used by Google in its self-driving car
project cost $75,000 per vehicle.
Newer versions of lidar sensors cost just one-tenth of that
price and Velodyne and rivals such as Quanergy are aiming to
drive the cost down to hundreds of dollars per unit by
miniaturising the bulky roof-top devices into semiconductors.
Innoluce produces the micro-electro-mechanical systems
(MEMS) modules that incorporate tiny mirrors controlled by a
computer chip that can be used to direct laser beams in the
Financial terms of the purchase of Innoluce, a spin-off from
the electronics group Philips, were not disclosed. The
company was founded in 2010 and is based in Nijmegen, on the
Infineon's biggest rivals in the car market are also racing
to develop chips to control and drive the sensors required for
autonomous driving, including NXP and
(Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman)