Automobile

The crowded lidar field is catching a break

But even as lidar proliferates, Abuelsamid and others wonder if there’s enough room for the dozens of competitors vying for contracts. Ouster CEO Angus Pacala believes only three to five lidar companies will remain in five years.

Along similar lines, Eitan Gertel, executive chairman of the Israeli lidar startup Opsys Tech, is skeptical of the revenue projected by many of the lidar companies that have gone public over the past year via special purpose acquisition companies. He suggests the field will winnow in the next 18 months as bold technical projections meet reality.

“People start saying, ‘Hey, you told me this, but you can only do that, and it’s not going to work for me,’ ” he said. “That’s causing changes on the automotive side, because suddenly the plan on paper did not work out as they imagined, and they have to change the plan or look for another source.”

But Gertel and others suggest overall demand remains healthy for use in driver-assist systems. Beyond those uses, lidar are also proliferating in nonautomotive applications, such as warehouses, robotics, security, drones, ports and more. And while robotaxis and other fully autonomous vehicles are deployed in limited numbers, almost entirely for testing purposes today, interest in using lidar in them tomorrow remains brisk.

“You’re going to get economies of scale from ADAS,” says Shauna McIntyre, CEO of Sense Photonics. “On the AV side, you might get some preproduction, but it’s really going to kick in in five years. We’re seeing that AV is not slowing down any time soon. It’s still very strong.”

Here’s an update on key developments at some of the top companies working on developing and producing lidar.

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