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Baraja unveils LiDAR tech for autonomous vehicles

Sydney-based startup, Baraja, has developed a light detection and ranging technology, Spectrum-Scan LiDAR, granting autonomous vehicles unprecedented data and clarity of vision.

Spectrum-Scan LiDAR reportedly represents a new category of LiDAR, pairing a wavelength-tuneable laser with prism-like optics. According to Baraja, this innovation addresses the scalability, reliability and performance issues that have challenged autonomous vehicle manufacturers.

Spectrum-Scan technology enables Baraja LiDAR to deliver high performance and long range in a system built from simple, industrialised components, which greatly improves automotive reliability versus competing technologies. With a flexible, modular design that simplifies integration into the vehicle, Baraja LiDAR allows autonomous vehicles to smartly control and adjust scan patterns in real-time to adapt to complex, dynamic road conditions.

“Our experience in the optical telecommunications field, in particular the knowledge gained from years of product development for high-reliability use-cases, inspired us to solve some of the biggest problems facing the current state of LiDAR,” said Baraja co-founder and CEO, Federico Collarte.

“The unique perspective our team brings to the field has helped us create a novel way to give vision to autonomous vehicles,” he said.

According to Baraja, traditional LiDAR scans the roadway by physically rotating lasers or using moving mirrors to steer the light using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). These moving parts have unresolved reliability problems in vehicles due to constant vibration and shock. Delicate components fail or require costly over-engineering to house and protect.

“These legacy scanning methods inject cost, reliability and performance issues, and contribute to the unwieldy appearance and vehicle integration difficulties of existing LiDAR solutions,” Baraja said in a statement.

“These limitations have become a serious bottleneck to the mass deployment of self-driving cars. Baraja’s compact, modular ‘eyes’ connect via fibre optics and deliver the high level of performance demanded by the autonomous vehicle industry using off-the-shelf components – like optical-grade silica-glass found in every smartphone camera and telecom-grade lasers that power the internet. These components maximise automotive reliability and the ability to mass produce the technology for fleets while enabling long-term cost benefits.

In developing Spectrum-Scan LiDAR, Baraja reportedly designed for the end goal: building LiDAR that can realistically be integrated into vehicles. By addressing the need for high-volume scalability, manufacturability and reliability, Baraja has guided the product development with a design-for-manufacture (DFM) approach.

“After spending years in stealth, iterating behind closed doors with OEMs and other high-profile pioneers in the autonomous vehicle space, we are confident that we have built a high-performance LiDAR system, one that addresses many of the challenges facing the autonomous vehicle industry today,” said Baraja co-founder and CTO, Cibby Pulikkaseril. “Automakers and tech companies want to put fleets of safe and reliable autonomous vehicles on the road. Spectrum-Scan LiDAR will help them get there faster.”

Baraja is backed by funding from Sequoia China, Blackbird and other investors.

“When Baraja came to us with their unique approach to LiDAR, we immediately saw how differentiated their approach was,” said Steven Ji, partner at Sequoia China. “After seeing their technology in action, we could see how well they addressed the limitations of other products. Baraja’s technology will be critical to the entire autonomous vehicle industry.”

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