Infineon acquires lidar-maker Innoluce to strengthen autonomous vehicle market position

Infineon is acquiring 100% of MEMS-maker Innoluce to develop lidar chip components for autonomous vehicles.

As a chip provider for driver-assistance systems (also called self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles), Infineon Technologies (Munich, Germany) says it is continuing its innovation path by acquiring 100% of Innoluce (Nijmegen, Netherlands), a fabless semiconductor company. Based on the know-how of Innoluce, Infineon will develop chip components for high-performance light detection and ranging (lidar) systems. Both companies agreed on the terms of the acquisition.



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Lidar, radar, and cameras will be the three key sensor technologies for semi-automated and fully automated cars. Infineon is a technology frontrunner; with this acquisition it delivers expertise in all three complementary sensor systems that provide the redundancy required for autonomous driving. While radar uses radio-frequency electromagnetic waves, lidar uses laser beams to measure the distance to objects adjacent to the car. Scanning lidar systems help to detect small objects on the road.

"With this acquisition, we take a big step into the lidar technology that will play an important role in the safety cocoon essential to fully automated cars," said Peter Schiefer, president of the Automotive division at Infineon. "We intend to make lidar an affordable feature for every new-built car worldwide."

The first lidar systems introduced in premium cars within the next couple of years will be based on mechanical scanning mirrors and, thus, are bulky and rather expensive. To become a standard feature in all car classes, lidar systems need to be semiconductor-based, thus getting more compact, cost-effective, and robust.

Fostering autonomous driving, Infineon already helped to bring radar technology as an additional safety feature to the vehicle mass market: the use of proven technologies from chip mass production and a new chip packaging technology reduced both manufacturing costs and size of radar systems significantly. For their technological breakthroughs, Infineon's radar chip team was nominated in 2015 for the prestigious German Future Award (Deutscher Zukunftspreis), the German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology.

Innoluce was founded in 2010 as an entrepreneurial spinoff of Royal Philips. It is a fabless semiconductor company with expertise in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Innoluce is a leading innovator of miniature laser scanning modules that integrate silicon-based solid-state MEMS micromirrors. Such micromirrors are necessary to adjust the laser beams in automotive light detection and ranging (lidar) systems.

Infineon Technologies says it provides semiconductor solutions that make life easier, safer, and greener. In the 2015 fiscal year (ending September 30), the company reported sales of about 5.8 billion Euro with some 35,400 employees worldwide.

SOURCE: Infineon;

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