Insight LiDAR Announces FMCW LiDAR Sensor for Autonomous Vehicle Market

Digital Coherent LiDAR™ offers high resolution, long range and direct Doppler in a chip-scale package

LAS VEGAS — (BUSINESS WIRE) — January 8, 2019 — Insight LiDAR today announced the development of Digital Coherent LiDAR, a chip-scale, long-range LiDAR sensor targeted at the emerging autonomous vehicle market. Insight’s Digital Coherent LiDAR is based on Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology offering a number of unique advantages over the current generation of Time-of-Flight (ToF) LiDAR sensors. Insight LiDAR is a spinout of Insight Photonic Solutions, a leader in the design and manufacture of highly-linear, swept-wavelength laser sources for imaging and sensing applications.

Autonomous vehicles require a variety of sensors to interpret the world around them and to make proper, timely decisions. While ninety-three percent of autonomous vehicle experts interviewed by UBS believe that LiDAR is a prerequisite for autonomous vehicles, today’s legacy LiDAR sensors either do not provide the performance or the price needed for wide-scale deployment. Legacy LiDAR either does not have the ability to see faint objects at distance, or it cannot meet industry cost targets, due to expensive laser sources and fiber amplifiers.

Insight’s Digital Coherent LiDAR was developed based on more sensitive FMCW detection techniques and software-programmable waveforms that have been used in FMCW radar for over 40 years. Insight LiDAR’s FMCW sensor offers 10-100x higher sensitivity than Time-of-Flight LiDAR while simultaneously offering direct Doppler velocity measurement. The higher sensitivity, enabled by FMCW detection, drives Digital Coherent LiDAR’s long-range capability; 200 m to dim (<10 percent reflectivity) objects like car tires, and 250 m or more to vehicle bodies, trees and other obstacles.

Direct Doppler velocity measurement enables much faster recognition and classification of objects, especially critical for safe level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicle operation.

Digital Coherent LiDAR is further enhanced by Insight’s proprietary true solid-state, fast-axis scan architecture. This unique feature enables Insight LiDAR to both precisely steer the beam and encrypt the critical fast-scan axis through software alone, with no moving parts.

“It’s an interesting time in this market,” commented Michael Minneman, CEO of Insight Photonic Solutions. “Level 4 and 5 autonomy needs a level of performance, range, resolution, frame rate, and immunity that legacy ToF sensors just can’t deliver. Couple that to cost goals that can only be met with a true all-semiconductor solution and you see the challenge. We have the huge advantage that we’ve been designing and manufacturing the core technology in this FMCW LiDAR sensor for more than 10 years.”

“LiDAR designers have long known the advantages of FMCW detection, but the critical laser sources have been large and expensive,” added Dr. Chris Wood, head of Insight LiDAR’s development and technology. “Over the past ten years, we’ve developed and refined unique, patented methods to manufacture and control the laser sources driving world-class performance in a tiny chip-scale package.”

Insight will be formally introducing Digital Coherent LiDAR at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2019. To arrange a meeting at CES, please contact Greg Smolka, VP, Business Development at or (978) 766-6805.

Key Features

Long Range – 200 m to 10 percent R targets at full scan speed with no averaging or processing
Direct Doppler velocity in every pixel
Complete immunity from sunlight and other LiDAR
True solid-state, flexible fast-axis scanning
Ultra-high resolution to 0.02 x 0.02 deg
Low-cost chip scale, all-semiconductor approach

Further information about Insight LiDAR’s Digital Coherent LiDAR™ is available at Direct inquiries to the company can be made through or at +1 (303) 604-5130.

About Insight LiDAR: Insight LiDAR, launched in 2016, licensed key technologies of Insight Photonic Solutions, based in Boulder, CO and expanded and adapted theses to autonomous vehicle LiDAR. Insight Photonic Solutions is an award winning, global leader in photonic-chip based fast-scan, swept wavelength laser technology. Insight’s products are used in applications ranging from biomedical imaging to semiconductor manufacturing to material processing to environmental sensing.

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Greg Smolka
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