LIDAR – Shaping the future of automotive

LIDAR plays a major role in automotive, as vehicles perform tasks with less and less human supervision and intervention. As a leader in VCSEL, ams is helping to shape this revolution.

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is an optical sensing technology that measures the distance to other objects. It is currently known for many diverse applications in industrial, surveying, and aerospace, but is a true enabler for autonomous driving. As the automotive manufacturers continue their push to design and release high-complexity autonomous systems, we likewise develop the technology that will enable this. That is why ams continues to bring our high-power VCSELs to the automotive market and to test the limits on peak power, shorter pulses, and additional scanning features which enable our customers to improve their LIDAR systems.

In 2019, ams together with ZF and Ibeo announced a hybrid solution called True Solid State where, like flash technology, no moving parts are needed to capture the full scene around the vehicle. By sequentially powering a portion of the laser, a scanning pattern can be generated, combining the advantages of flash and scan systems.

Making sense of the LIDAR landscape

At ams, we classify LIDAR systems on seven elements: ranging principle, wavelength, beam steering principle, emitter technology and layout, and receiver technology and layout. Here we discuss the first five.

The most dominant implementation to measure distance (ranging) is Direct Time of Flight (DTOF): a short (few nanoseconds) laser pulse is emitted, reflected by an object and returned to a receiver. The time difference between sending and receiving can be converted into a distance measurement. Moreover, with duty cycles of <1% this system takes thousands of distance measurements per second. The laser pulse is typically in the 850-940nm rage, components are readily available and most affordable. However, systems can also be using 1300 or 1550nm, the big advantage is eye safety regulations allow more energy to be used here, and in theory, this provides more range. The downside is that components are expensive.

To scan the complete surroundings (or field of view) of a vehicle, the system needs to be able to shoot pulses in all directions. This is the beam steering principle. Classical systems used rotating sensor heads and mirrors to scan the field of view section by section. As these systems are bulky, they are being replaced by static systems with internal moving mirrors. MEMS mirrors are also about to enter the market. Another approach is flash, where no moving parts are needed at all. The light source illuminates the complete field of view, and the sensor captures that same field in a single frame like a photo. As the full scene is illuminated, and to remain eye safe, this means the range must be limited.

On the emitter side, edge emitters continue to be frequently used, based on earlier developments. They have a high-power density, making them suitable in combination with MEMS mirrors. Where first iterations were single emitters, meanwhile 2-4-8-16 emitters are being integrated in a single bar. Fiber lasers are another interesting technology. They offer even higher power density, and typically are used in 1550nm wavelength and come typically as a single emitter source.

ams is a leading supplier in the VCSEL emitter technology. Our high power VCSELs can differentiate in scan and flash applications as they are very stable over temperature, are less sensitive to individual emitter failures, and are easy to integrate. However, the best characteristic of VCSELs are their ability to form emitter arrays. This makes VCSELs easy to scale. It also allows for addressability, or powering selective zones of the die. This enables True Solid State topology, which we consider to be the most all-rounded LIDAR solution.

LIDAR enables Autonomous Driving

The most commonly accepted way to classify vehicles on their level of autonomy is by the definitions of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). At SAE Level 3 and above, the vehicle takes over responsibility from the driver and assistance turns into autonomy. This means the vehicle should be able to perform its task without human supervision and intervention. This requires a step function in required system performance. Where Level 1 and Level 2 vehicles assist the driver and typically rely on camera or radar, or a combination, there are shortcomings in these technologies for 3D object detection. LIDAR technology addresses this, and there is wide consensus in the industry that from Level 3 onwards, LIDAR is needed for 3D object detection.

When 3D LIDAR is combined or fused with camera and radar, a high-resolution map of the vehicle’s surroundings can be constructed and allow the vehicle to safely fulfil its mission. The automotive industry started with more straightforward driver-assist use cases used in Level 1 and Level 2. As sensors and data processing gets more advanced, further more difficult use cases can be covered, such as Highway Pilot or City Pilot.

Ultimately, when every conceivable use case can be fulfilled by the system we define this as a Level 5 vehicle – fully autonomous and the holy grail of autonomous driving. This is expected to still be quite a number of years out from today. Moreover, there will be huge pressure to bring down cost and rationalize content per vehicle – to make autonomous driving available to the mass market.

Interested to learn more?

Let us know if you would like to discuss how you could be using ams technology to support your potential LIDAR applications!
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7 Essential Elements Accelerating 5G Rollouts


5G is no longer just a promise—it’s very real, even though implementation is in its infancy. There are two examples from 2019 that demonstrate that 5G implementations are materializing. One is that Verizon launched 5G service in all its NFL football stadiums. The other example is that in South Korea, 5G subscribers reached more than 2 million by August of that year – just four months after local carriers commercially launched the technology. In this post, we explore what’s advancing 5G in these areas such as small cell densification, spectrum gathering, spectrum sharing and massive MIMO. Although it will take time to become ubiquitous, 5G is expected to be the fastest-growing mobile technology ever. According to the Global Mobile Supplier Association (GSA), 5G is expanding at a much faster pace than 4G LTE—approximately two years faster. GSA recently published data stating that more than 50 operators launched 5G mobile networks and at least 60 different 5G mobile devices are available across the world.

Ultimately, 5G will have a life-changing impact and transform many industries. However, for 2020, operators are focusing on supporting the first two major 5G use cases: faster mobile connectivity and fixed wireless access (FWA), which brings high-speed wireless connectivity.

The rapid pace of 5G development is highlighted in the 2nd edition of Qorvo’s 5G RF For Dummies book. This NEWLY UPDATED book describes key trends and technology enablers that are bringing 5G visions to life.

Here are some highlights in the book:

  1. Network Densification and Small Cells

5G users will require more cell sites to greatly expand network capacity and support the increase in data traffic. This is prompting mobile network operators (MNOs) to rush and densify their networks using small cells—which are small, low-powered base stations installed on buildings, attached to lamp posts, and in dense city venues. These small cells will help MNOs satisfy the data-hungry users, improving quality-of-service.

  1. Spectrum Gathering

5G requires vast amounts of bandwidth. More bandwidth enables operators to add capacity and increase data rates so users can download big files much faster and get jitter-free streaming in high resolution. The physical layer and higher layer designs are frequency agnostic, but separate radio performance requirements are specified for each. The lower frequency range (FR1), also called sub-7 GHz, runs from 410 to 7,125 MHz. The higher frequency range (FR2), also called millimeter Wave (mmWave), runs from 24.25 to 52.6 GHz.

5G RF For Dummies, Second Edition

5G RF For Dummies, Second Edition
Download and read this NEW UPDATED VERSION of our 5G RF For Dummies Book

Download the free e-book

To obtain the bandwidth in FR1 and FR2, more spectrum must be allocated. Already, regulators in roughly 40 countries have allocated new frequencies and enabled re-farming of LTE spectrum. However, much more will be needed. To provide at least some of that, 54 countries plan to allocate more spectrum between now and the end of 2022, according to the GSA.

  1. 4G to 5G Network Progression

5G Radio Access Network (RAN) is designed to work with existing 4G LTE networks. 3GPP allowed for multiple New Radio (NR) deployment options. Thus, making it easier for MNOs to migrate to 5G by way of a Non-Standalone (NSA) to Standalone (SA) option, as shown in the figure below.

Transition of 5G Deployment Infographic

  1. Dynamic Spectrum Sharing

Dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) is a new technology that can further help smooth the migration from 4G to 5G. With DSS, operators can allow 4G and 5G users to share the same spectrum, instead of having to dedicate each slice of spectrum to either 4G or 5G. This means operators can use their networks more efficiently and optimize the user experience by allocating capacity based on users’ needs. Thus, as the number of 5G users increases, the network can dynamically allocate more of the total capacity to each user.

  1. Millimeter Wave (mmWave)

5G networks can deliver the highest data rates by using mmWave FR2 spectrum, where large expanses of bandwidth are available. mmWave is now a reality: 5G networks are using it for FWA and mobile devices and will apply it for other use cases in the future. Operators expect to roll out FWA to more homes, as 5G network deployment expands and suitable home equipment becomes available.

  1. Massive MIMO

MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) increases data speeds and network capacity by employing multiple antennas to deliver several data streams using the same bandwidth. Many of today’s LTE base stations already use up to 8 antennas to transmit data, but 5G introduces massive MIMO, which uses 32 or 64 antennas and perhaps even more in the future. Massive MIMO is particularly important for mmWave because the multiple antennas focus the transmit and receive signals to increase data rates and compensate for the propagation losses at high frequencies. This brings huge improvements in throughput and energy efficiency.

  1. RFFE Innovations that Enable 5G

Innovation in RF front-end (RFFE) technologies are needed to truly enable the vision of 5G. As handsets, base stations and other devices become sleeker and smaller, the RFFE will need to pack more performance into less space while becoming more energy-efficient. Some RF technologies are key in achieving these goals for 5G. They include:

  • Gallium Nitride (GaN). GaN is well suited for high-power transistors capable of operating at high temperatures. The potential of GaN PAs in 5G is only beginning to be realized. Their high RF power, low DC power consumption, small form factor, and high reliability enable equipment manufacturers to make base stations that are smaller and lighter in weight. By using GaN PAs, operators can achieve the high effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) output specifications for mmWave transmissions with fewer antenna array elements and lower power consumption. This results in lighter-weight systems that are less expensive to install.
  • BAW Filters. The big increase in the number of bands and carrier aggregation (CA) combinations used for 5G, combined with the need to coexist with many other wireless standards, means that high-performance filters are essential to avoid interference. With their small footprint, excellent performance, and affordability, surface acoustic wave (SAW) and bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters are the primary types of filters used in 5G mobile devices.


-Blog from

Author – David Schnaufer
Technical Marketing Communications Manager

David is the public voice for Qorvo’s applications engineers. He provides technical insight into RF trends as well as tips that help RF engineers solve complex design problems.

New multi-channel spectral sensor from ams, the AS7341, set to transform the market for mobile color and light measurement

Premstaetten, Austria  (09 January, 2019) — ams (SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide supplier of high performance sensor solutions, today launched a miniature spectral sensor chip that brings laboratory-grade multi-channel color analysis capability to portable and mobile devices.

In end products such as mobile phones or accessories, the new AS7341 from ams produces more precise spectral measurements in a wider range of lighting conditions than competing sensors. The new sensor’s small dimensions also mean that it is easier to accommodate it in mobile phones and other portable devices.

“The AS7341 marks a breakthrough in the category of spectral sensors in a small package suitable for mounting in a mobile phone or consumer device. It is the smallest such device to offer 11 measurement channels, and also offers higher light sensitivity than any other multi-channel spectral sensor aimed at the consumer market,” says Kevin Jensen, Senior Marketing Manager in the Optical Sensors business line at ams.

Consumer benefits of the AS7341 include improved performance in mobile phone cameras, as the chip’s accurate spectral measurements enable superior automatic white balancing, more reliable light source identification and integrated flicker detection. The technology will more accurately reproduce colors and minimize distortion of ambient light sources, resulting in sharper, clearer and more true-to-color photographs. The AS7341 also will enable consumers to use their mobile devices to match the colors of objects such as fabrics through using color references like the PANTONE® Color System.

The power of the AS7341 to upgrade color measurement performance is demonstrated by the introduction of the Spectro 1™ portable colorimeter from Variable ( In the Spectro 1, Variable has used the AS7341 to provide professional color measurement for solid colors at a consumer price point. The product provides highly repeatable spectral curve data in 10nm increments across the visible light spectrum from 400nm to 700nm – a capability previously only available in professional spectrophotometers costing more than ten times as much as the portable Spectro 1.

“In our opinion, no other spectral sensor IC comes close to offering the multi-channel capability of the AS7341 from ams in such a compact chip package,” says George Yu, CEO of Variable. “This small size is a crucial benefit – integration with a mobile phone app is one of the key features of Spectro 1, and we have designed the product to be small enough to hold easily in one hand. And the multi-channel spectral measurements provided by the AS7341 mean that users of Spectro 1 will never be misled by false matching of metameric pairs.”

The AS7341 is a complete spectral sensing system housed in a tiny 3.1mm x 2.0mm x 1.0mm LGA package with aperture. It is an 11-channel device which provides extremely accurate and precise characterizations of the spectral content of a directly measured light source, or of a reflective surface. Eight of the channels cover eight equally spaced portions of the visible light spectrum. The device also features a near infrared channel, a clear channel, and a channel dedicated to the detection of typical ambient light flicker at a frequency of 50Hz upto 1kHz.

Beside camera image optimization, the AS7341 spectral sensor also supports various applications, such general color measurement of materials or fluids, skin tone measurement, and others.

The AS7341, which will be demonstrated at CES 2019 (Las Vegas, NV, 8-11 January 2019) is available for sampling. Mass production starting in February. Unit pricing is $2.00 in an order quantity of 10,000 units.

An evaluation board for the AS7341 spectral sensor is available. For sample requests or for more technical information, please go to >>

New CSG14k image sensor from ams provides 12-bit output in 14Mpixel resolution for use in high-throughput manufacturing and optical inspection

New CSG14k image sensor from ams provides 12-bit output in 14Mpixel resolution for use in high-throughput manufacturing and optical inspection

Premstaetten, Austria (6 November, 2018) — ams (SIX: AMS), a leading worldwide supplier of high performance sensor solutions, today introduced a new global shutter image sensor for machine vision and Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) equipment which offers better image quality and higher throughput than any previous device that supports the 1” optical format.

The new CSG14k image sensor features a 3840 x 3584 pixel array, giving 14Mpixel resolution at a frame rate considerably higher than any comparable device on the market offers today. The CSG14k’s 12-bit output provides sufficient dynamic range to handle wide variations in lighting conditions and subjects. The sensor’s global shutter with true CDS (Correlated Double Sampling) produces high-quality images of fast-moving objects free of motion artefacts.

The high performance and resolution of the CSG14k are the result of innovations in the design of the sensor’s 3.2µm x 3.2µm pixels. The new pixel design is 66% smaller than the pixel in the previous generation of 10-bit ams image sensors, while offering a 12-bit output and markedly lower noise.

The superior image quality and speed of the CSG14k provide important advantages in high-throughput production settings, allowing machine vision equipment to take a more detailed and accurate picture of objects moving along the production line at higher speed. The sensor is suitable for use in applications such as Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), sorting equipment, laser triangulation and other measurement instruments, and robotics.

The CSG14k offers various configuration settings which enable the operation of the sensor to be tuned for specific application requirements. Configuration options include low-power modes at reduced frame rate, and optimizations for low noise and high dynamic range. The device has a sub-LVDS output interface which is compatible with the existing CMV family of image sensors from ams.

The CSG14k is housed in a 218-pin, 22mm x 20mm x 3mm LGA package which is compatible with the 1” lenses widely used in small form factor camera designs.

“Future advances in factory automation technology are going to push today’s machine vision equipment beyond the limits of its capabilities. The breakthrough in image quality and performance offered by the CSG14k gives manufacturers of machine vision systems headroom to support new, higher throughput rates while delivering valuable improvements in image quality and resolution,” said Tom Walschap, Marketing Director in the CMOS Image Sensors business line at ams.

The CSG14k will be available for sampling in the first half of 2019.