At SPIE Photonics West 2017, sensor manufacturer First Sensor (Berlin, Germany) and Velodyne LiDAR (Morgan Hill, CA) announced an expansion of their cooperation agreement for avalanche photodiodes (APDs) from First Sensor to Velodyne, which has been in place since 2005. The agreement includes a multi-million-dollar order volume over the next three years to support rapid growth in the autonomous driving industry.
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Velodyne LiDAR uses APDs from First Sensor in its entire product range of LiDAR scanners. Together with radar and camera systems, LiDAR is of fundamental importance for autonomous driving. In this field, Velodyne LiDAR acts as a supplier to a large number of OEMs and tech companies in the autonomous revolution space and particularly appreciates the performance of First Sensor technology for this.
"In the field of industry, First Sensor has been a valued supplier for Avalanche photodiodes for a long time. We cover a wide usage spectrum, ranging from length measurement right up to machine safety. By using these products in LiDAR scanners for autonomous driving, we are now gradually tapping into a new market with huge growth potential with this product," says Dirk Rothweiler, CEO of First Sensor.
This started in 2009 with an APD array that entered series production for the end customer Chrysler. In addition to the USA, this technology is now being used in Europe and Asia as well. "Many of our development projects had reached prototype phase by the end of last year. We are confident that we will generate further business from them in the future," says Mathias Gollwitzer, CFO of First Sensor.
First Sensor came first among producers for Avalanche photodiodes in the recently published Global APD Avalanche Photodiode Market Research Report 2016. They detect invisible flashes of light with which LiDAR scanners create a high-definition 360 degree picture of the surrounding area. Fitted with an internal gain mechanism, they are particularly sensitive. The sensor specialist offers individual diodes as well as arrays, which are used for applications such as distance measurement or optical communication. They are used in the growth markets of industry 4.0, medical technology, and autonomous driving.