LIDAR systems employ an invisible laser in the rear view mirror illuminating an area of about 8 meters in front of the car. The reflected light from obstacles such as cars or pedestrians in close proximity is used to measure the distance. If the distance is too small, the system initiates automatic braking. The safety feature is branded by OEMs as “city-safety” or “active city stop”. LIDAR systems are among the first active safety features coming into volume production.
Since light travels a distance of 30 cm in only one nanosecond, high speed measurement technology is needed. Austriamicrosystems’ chip set comprises a 3-channel high-speed amplifier and a high-speed mixed-signal IC. The amplifier IC detects reflected light signals from a photodiode receiver array located in the rear view mirror. The device is manufactured in austriamicrosystems’ 0.35 µm Silicon-Germanium (SiGe) technology offering a transit frequency of up to 70 GHz. The mixed signal IC, fabricated in 0.35 µm CMOS incorporates a very high speed 3-channel flash ADC. A complex state machine controls the laser and carries out the time of flight measurement. The chip set communicates with the MCU of the control unit via a high speed SPI interface.
Thomas Mueller, product manager for automotive ASICs at austriamicrosystems, said: “austriamicrosystems’ advanced technology platform ranging from SiGe to low-power and High-Voltage CMOS combined with our vast design expertise allows our customers to achieve demanding safety-critical applications like crash prevention systems.”
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