Yole Développement (Yole) forecasts that the global LiDAR systems’ market for automotive applications will go through massive growth between 2017 and 2023. The company predicts that it will rise from US$726 million in 2017 to US$5 billion in 2023. The growth rate for this market, according to Yole will reach 43% CAGR during the time period. Also, the company asserts that the automotive market for LiDAR should continue growing until 2032 when Yole says it could reach US$ 28 billion.
LiDAR or 3D scanning technology has been around in various forms for some time with moving parts. Over time the moving parts have gotten smaller and may eventually be non-existent. However, using a combination of micromechanical devices (mems) and lasers combined to do the scanning is relatively new. Yole says MEMs based LiDAR may be the next step in the technology’s evolution.
The step beyond that may be an optical phased-array, such as that proposed by Quanergy, in which uses no moving parts, becoming even cheaper, smaller, and safer. Some companies including Continental and Xenomatix also propose flash LiDAR, in which the entire scene is illuminated simultaneously with no moving parts.
Investors Embracing LiDAR not Guaranteed Success
LiDAR companies have been enthusiastically embraced by investors in recent years. Some startups have gotten vast sums of money from investors hoping to cash in when advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving is expected to take over the automotive market.
“In the past two years, more than US$800 million has been invested in LiDAR companies,” said Alexis Debray, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “Therefore, there is clearly a strong excitement around these technologies.”
For example, Blackmore, which was founded in 2016, recently received US $18 million from BMW and Toyota. And Quanergy, started in 2012, received US$180 million in 2017.
So while Yole sees tremendous potential in the LiDAR market, the way the technology will evolve and how profitable individual companies might be at the various points in the evolution of the technology is still quite uncertain.