Over the last few years, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have seen incredible adoption as mounting evidence shows it provides significant improvements in road safety. At the end of 2020, 10% of vehicles in use worldwide were equipped with ADAS, and it is projected that over half of all vehicles will have ADAS safety features by 2050.1
ADAS is already reducing the number and severity of crashes by minimizing the effects of human error. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, human error contributes to 94% of all automobile crashes. As a solution to this issue, one study found that ADAS vehicles showed a 27% reduction in the frequency of bodily injury claims and a 19% reduction in property damage frequency.2 Another study estimated that ADAS for vehicle safety could prevent approximately 40% of all passenger-vehicle crashes and 29% of all deaths in crashes that involve passenger vehicles.3
Light detection and ranging, or lidar, is becoming a key component in new ADAS technologies designed to further improve safety features. Lidar sensors use infrared laser light to accurately measure distances and create 3D maps of a vehicle’s surroundings, locating and recognizing vehicles, people, and objects that could affect driving.
Compared to other sensors such as traditional cameras and radar, lidar sensors can capture the most accurate information about the size, shape, location, and movements of surrounding objects. Unlike cameras which only receive visible light, lidar actively emits laser light into its surroundings, making it effective even in dark, bright, and other challenging lighting environments. Lidar can also obtain depth information directly, providing consistent perception in tricky situations such as black vehicles in dark settings or white objects against a white sky or background. On top of that, lidar has been shown to integrate well with other sensors, such as cameras and radar, to create safer and more effective systems.
As lidar sensors continue to integrate with ADAS, forecasters now predict that the global automotive lidar market will remain at an impressive 69% CAGR between 2022 and 2028 for passenger cars.4
Important vehicle safety features that lidar supports include:
- Lane Departure Warnings: Lidar detects lane markings and alerts the driver if the vehicle is drifting out of the lane.
- Blind Spot Detection: Lidar scans the vehicle’s surroundings and warns of any approaching vehicles or obstacles.
- Adaptive Cruise Control: Lidar measures the distance and speed of vehicles ahead and adjusts the speed accordingly to maintain a safe following distance.
- Collision Avoidance (Autonomous Emergency Braking): With its superior resolution and range, lidar detects potential collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, or even small obstacles like pets. It can warn drivers and apply emergency braking or steering to avoid collisions.
- Parking Assistance: Lidar guides the driver and provides feedback on the available space, the distance to obstacles, and any potential rear cross-traffic.
While there is a clear opportunity to improve road safety through the wide adoption of lidar technology, the industry still faces some challenges. Currently, very few lidar companies have the capacity for large-scale manufacturing, and even fewer can deliver high-quality sensors consistently in mass production. But the scene is quickly changing as demand drives technological breakthroughs.
Hesai stands out among other lidar manufacturers with its high volume of deliveries and mass manufacturing capabilities. According to Yole Group’s 2023 lidar industry report, Hesai is a clear leader in the global automotive lidar market by both revenue and shipment.4 Since 2014, Hesai has been leading the charge in developing the world’s most sophisticated lidar technology. As a company that builds sensors to protect the safety of its users, Hesai’s founders realized early on the importance of the quality and reliability of its sensors and the challenges faced in mass manufacturing. This dedication to providing reliability at scale prompted Hesai to ensure that the technical capabilities of their lidar products are always supported by an in-house production system capable of consistently delivering high-quality sensors at price points and volumes capable of large-scale commercial vehicle adoption. With this strategy, Hesai has already deployed over 135,000 lidar units globally. In 2022 alone, Hesai’s deliveries surpassed its six largest publicly listed peers combined. Looking forward, Hesai is expecting strong production growth to serve over 11 OEM customers, 6 of which will have shipments starting this year.
“Products that protect our safety need to be trustworthy and reliable, and to achieve that, every stage from concept, through design, manufacturing, testing, operations, and support, needs to focus on quality, especially at high production volumes,” explains Bob in den Bosch, Senior Vice President of Hesai. “At Hesai, we design exceptional sensors and develop high-quality and scalable production processes. These capabilities are the key to large-scale deployment of automotive grade lidar and improved safety on the roads.”
As lidar vehicles become more widespread, they protect not only their drivers and passengers but also surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, pets, and properties. With improvements in collision avoidance technologies, the number of accidents that involve more than one vehicle will drop exponentially. An effective system in just one vehicle could prevent collisions with other legacy vehicles not yet equipped with lidar and make public roads a safer place for all.