Silicon Valley Meets Detroit

One of the things that the tech companies that are entering the automotive space as though they are like the prospectors who came rolling into California back in the mid-19th century (“Thar’s gold in them there cars!”) perhaps don’t understand clearly is that the auto companies are very, very, very cost sensitive.

One of the things that the tech companies that are entering the automotive space as though they are like the prospectors who came rolling into California back in the mid-19th century (“Thar’s gold in them there cars!”) perhaps don’t understand clearly is that the auto companies are very, very, very cost sensitive.

Sure, they’re as interested as anyone else in getting the latest, greatest and coolest tech out there. But they’re also somewhat frugal when it comes to acquiring that tech to put it on something other than a prototype or pilot fleet of vehicles.

And there are those other factors, like reliability, durability, safety, etc. that they keenly focus on, too.

Which brings us to Magna’s recent announcement that it is partnering with Innoviz Technologies on LiDAR.

InnovizOne

LiDAR systems, by and large, are large. They are the sensors fitted onto the roofs of vehicles that resemble large rotating hat boxes or vent pipes. And they are costly.

Innoviz has developed a system that is compact (5 x 5 x 5 cm) and, according to the specs, quite capable (e.g., 200-m detection range for objects with 50 percent reflectivity, <10 cm accuracy, 100 x 25° field of view, 0.1 x 0.1° spatial resolution).

And on the Innoviz website they include a piece that appeared in TechCrunch this past August that includes the line: “Innoviz says it’s aiming for a price-point below $100.” Presumably were that not the case, they wouldn’t feature the item on the site.

According to Omer Keliaf, co-founder and CEO of Innoviz, “The integration of LiDAR into driving systems is pivotal in enabling full autonomy and in ensuring a comprehensive sensing solution that satisfies the highest safety standards.”

And Swamy Kotagiri, chief technology officer of Magna, said, “We are pleased for the opportunity to partner with Innoviz, as we have confidence in their multi-disciplinary team and this gives Magna a full suite of sensing systems—camera, radar and LiDAR—to complement our autonomous vehicle capability.”

Realize that autonomy is going to require more than one type of sensor, which goes to Kotagiri’s point about having a suite, not a single solution.

And because of the multiplicity of systems, that aforementioned affordability is all the more underscored.

Which is why it is undoubtedly important for tech companies to work with technologically savvy automotive suppliers like Magna.

(It should be noted that Innoviz isn’t based in Silicon Valley, but Kfar Saba, Israel. Still, the argument holds.)