AES Semigas


28 July 2021

LiDAR receiver maker Luminar acquiring InGaAs photodetector chip partner OptoGration

Luminar Technologies Inc of Orlando, FL, USA is acquiring its exclusive indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) chip design partner and manufacturer OptoGration Inc, bringing specialized core IP in-house as Luminar scales its Iris light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor into series production with its OEM customers.

The acquisition secures a key part of Luminar’s supply chain and enables deeper integration with its existing chip design subsidiary Black Forest Engineering (BFE, acquired in 2017). Luminar is combining the latest technology from Optogration and BFE to power its new fifth-generation LiDAR chip in Iris as it prepares for series production of its product and technology.

For the past five years, Luminar has been closely collaborating with OptoGration, developing, iterating and perfecting the specialized InGaAs photodetector technology that is required for 1550nm-wavelength LiDAR. OptoGration has the capacity to produce about 1 million InGaAs chips with Luminar’s design each year at its specialized fabrication facility in Wilmington, MA, with the opportunity to expand annual capacity to 10 million units.

“Acquiring OptoGration is the culmination of a deep, half-decade-long technology partnership that has dramatically advanced the proprietary LiDAR chips that power the industry-leading performance of our newest Iris sensor,” says Luminar’s co-founder & chief technolog officer Jason Eichenholz. “The OptoGration team is unique in their ability to deliver photodetectors with the performance and quality that achieve our increasingly demanding requirements,” he adds. “Chip-level innovation and integration has been key to unlocking our performance and driving the substantial cost reductions we’ve achieved.”

Luminar combines its InGaAs photodetector chips from Optogration with silicon application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) produced by BFE to create its LiDAR receiver and processing chip, which is claimed to be the most sensitive, highest-dynamic-range InGaAs receiver of its kind. It is able to acquire and process gigabits of precise data per second to produce optimal LiDAR data. The fifth-generation proprietary chip is now powering Luminar’s Iris sensor. Iris is reckoned to be the only system to meet the stringent performance, safety, scalability and economic requirements to enable autonomous driving in series production vehicles.

As part of the transaction, OptoGration’s founders are joining Luminar and will continue to lead the business with support from Luminar.

“We share a vision for transforming automotive safety and autonomy with LiDAR,” comments OptoGration’s president William Waters. “We also share a commitment to continuous innovation and have an incredible track record of combining our technologies to increase performance and lower cost. Together we can go even faster to scale.”

The OptoGration acquisition is expected to be completed in third-quarter 2021.

Tags: LiDAR InGaAs IR detectors



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