LiDAR firm Innoviz is working together with vehicle automation company Magna to create solid-state LiDAR arrays for the BMW Group. These special solid-state LiDAR setups are made to provide performance comparable to and even surpassing traditional LiDAR as seen in the likes of Waymo's self-driving cars, but at a fraction of the cost; the type of array that the two companies are creating for the BMW Group, for example, costs only $1,000 per array, versus $4,000 per array for a comparable traditional LiDAR setup. With such huge cost savings over the systems currently in wide use on the market, this innovation promises to make LiDAR vastly more ubiquitous, and BMW is going to be one of the first consumer-facing automakers to embrace the technology.
Solid-state LiDAR, as the name suggests, is a LiDAR array that reduces moving parts and uses a solid-state control board for optimum processing speed, power efficiency, and durability. The cost saving, of course, is also a big factor in the adoption of the technology. Magna has worked on vehicle automation and driver assistance for quite some time, and the company's tie-up with Innoviz will utilize the fruits of that experience in the form of the integration with existing components to make it easier to fit into BMW's vehicle lineup. Specifically, Magna will be supplying some of the same components used in its MAX 4 autonomous driving setup. Paired with Innoviz' solid-state LiDAR, these specially-made arrays will make the BMW Group's vehicle lineup capable of multiple types of autonomous function, up to and possibly including full autonomy.
This deal could mark the beginning of a new era in LiDAR and autonomous driving, making systems far cheaper and thus more widespread. While the AI technology behind self-driving cars is still being improved on all fronts in order to maximize safety, the hardware that will enable full autonomy seems to be as close to perfection as it's going to get for the time being. The BMW Group will likely serve as an industry test bed of sorts, and if this deal goes well, it could mean that the humble startup Innoviz and the otherwise niche Magna will start seeing business boom as automakers and tech companies scramble to get in on the proven technology.