Volkswagen's Software Unit CARIAD Selects Innoviz as its Direct Lidar Supplier for the Automaker's Future Software-Defined Vehicles

Volkswagen's Software Unit CARIAD Selects Innoviz as its Direct Lidar Supplier for the Automaker's Future Software-Defined Vehicles

Author: Eric Walz   

Lidar developer Innoviz Technologies Ltd, which is among one of the leading developers of the laser technology for advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving, has landed a major supply deal with Volkswagen's software unit CARIAD.

Israel-based Innoviz will supply its lidar sensors as well as its advanced perception software to CARIAD. The custom-built perception software improves the accuracy of the lidar.

CARIAD selected Innoviz after a rigorous 2-year RFQ process with over hundreds of competing companies. 

It's the third major supply deal for Innoviz. The company's forward-looking order book was updated by $4 billion with the CARIAD supply deal and now totals $6.6 billion.

Innoviz is supplying its "Innoviz Two" lidar unit to CARIAD. It has a detection range of up to 300 meters. Due to its low cost and enhanced performance, the InnovizTwo allows vehicle manufacturers to offer safe level 2 automated driving capabilities to their models.

Like many automakers following in Tesla's lead, Volkswagen is transitioning to building software defined EVs that are capable of receiving regular over-the-air software updates for the life of the vehicle. 

The lidar sensors supplied by Innoviz will be a part of this software-based vehicle architecture and operating system that CARIAD is building as the foundation for millions of Volkswagen's future EVs beginning in the middle of the decade. The vehicle operating system is dubbed "VW.OS". 

VW.OS will be  further supported by the Volkswagen Cloud ("VW.AC") and a scalable, unified end-to-end electronic architecture for future Volkswagen EVs.  

"We are thrilled to work with the CARIAD team and be a supplier of LiDAR sensors and perception software to support safe mobility for vehicles launching from the middle of the decade," said Innoviz CEO and Co-Founder, Omer Keilaf. "CARIAD is a leading player in the transformation of the whole automotive space. We are proud to be part of their mission". 

Innoviz is one of several high-profile lidar developers, including Luminar Technologies Inc. and Cepton Technologies Inc., that are developing low-cost, automotive grade lidar sensors for the world's automakers.  All three of the lidar developers recently launched IPOs to raise capital from investors and now each has also landed major deals with automakers.

Innoviz made its Wall Street in April 2021 after its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Collective Growth Corp in order to raise new capital from investors looking for opportunities in the advanced mobility sector. The combined company retained the Innoviz Technologies, Ltd. name and is listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "INVZ". 

Innoviz rival Luminar is working with both Volvo and Mercedes-Benz and is supplying its lidar units to both automakers. Luminar's lidar can be paired with its customized software stack, providing automakers with an all-in-one autonomous driving solution that can be added to vehicles during production. 

Cepton was recently selected as General Motors' lidar supplier. The company manufactures small, solid-state LIDAR sensors that can be embedded inside automotive lighting assemblies, allowing automakers like GM a solution for maintaining vehicle aesthetics. These compact lidar sensors can be concealed in headlight assemblies or brake light housings.

What is LiDAR and Why is it so Important for Automakers?

The term "lidar" is an acronym for "light detection and ranging." The technology works by sending out pulses of invisible laser light and measuring the time it takes the light to reflect back off solid objects. 

The laser beams reflected back are used to create a 3D rendering of the environment around a vehicle and can accurately identify pedestrians, vehicles, bicyclists, infrastructure and other hazards. More advanced lidar sensors can also determine if an object is moving towards or away from a vehicle. 

Lidar sensors serve as an extra set of eyes on the road for vehicle ADAS, such as automotive emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (ACC), which are offered standard in many new vehicles today.  Just four of these compact lidar sensors can provide 360 degrees of perception coverage around a vehicle.

For autonomous driving applications, lidar sensors are typically paired with cameras, radar and other perception software. 

As automated or hands-free highway driving features are being made available on many new vehicles, there is a growing demand for lidar technology from companies like Innoviz, Luminar and Cepton and many others, including the investor of lidar Velodyne Lidar Inc. 

In addition to its deal with Innoviz, CARIAD announced several major partnerships in 2022 as it continues to build out VW.OS for Volkswagen.

In January, CARIAD and automotive supplier Bosch agreed to form an extensive partnership to jointly develop the state-of-the-art, standardized software platform for Volkswagen vehicles. The goal of the partnership is to make SAE Level-2 and 3 autonomous driving capabilities suitable for volume production. 

In March, Volkswagen announced the addition of anonymous "swarm data" from other Volkswagen Group vehicles to help its advanced driver assist systems make better decisions over time, such as performing automatic lane changes. The addition of swarm data marks the next step towards vehicle systems that support fully-automated driving, according to Volkswagen. 

Last month, CARIAD announced it selected BlackBerry QNX technology for VW.OS. As part of the agreement, BlackBerry will license its QNX technology to CARIAD, including its QNX OS for Safety, which is a pre-certified microkernel operating system designed for safety-critical embedded systems, as well as the toolchains for engineers building these systems. 

In May, CARIAD announced that Qualcomm Technologies will supply its system-on-chips (SoCs) for the VW software platform designed to deliver up to SAE level-4 autonomous driving capabilities in future vehicles.

CARIAD was established in 2020. The unit has around 5,000 engineers and developers today working on the unified software platform and OS for all future Volkswagen Group brand vehicles. VW's brands include Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley and Ducati. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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