SiLC Technologies Launches its Eyeonic Vision System, a LiDAR Sensor That Can Identify Objects up to 1 Kilometer Away

SiLC Technologies Launches its Eyeonic Vision System, a LiDAR Sensor That Can Identify Objects up to 1 Kilometer Away

Author: Eric Walz   

California-based SiLC Technologies, Inc. (SiLC), a developer of advanced machine vision technology, announced the launch of its new Eyeonic Vision System this week. The Eyeonic Vision System is one of the industry's most compact lidar sensors, offering high resolution, precision and long range. It represents decades of silicon photonics innovation, according to SiLC. 

SiLC's Eyeonic Vision Sensor was first announced in Dec 2021. It improves the perception of traditional laser-based lidar, providing much more depth perception and instantaneous velocity of objects, which makes them well suited for autonomous vehicle applications.

The Eyeonic Vision System is the first-of-its-kind Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) lidar transceiver using a single silicon photonics chip. All of the photonic lidar functions are integrated into the silicon chip and installed into compact housing.

FMCW sensing that takes advantage of the properties of photons of light. The Eyeonic Vision System provides distance, motion, velocity, and even  information about the surface and materials of any point in the 3D space. It's similar to how a human eye detects and tracks objects. 

The photonics chip of the Eyeonic integrates an ultra-low linewidth laser, a semiconductor optical amplifier, Germanium detectors, and meters of optical circuits delivering millimeter-level precision and longer distances. The Eyeonic Vision System also has low power requirements and can be mass produced at low cost.

The Eyeconic lidar provides more than 10x the definition and precision of conventional lidar. It can measure the shape and distance of objects with high precision at distances greater than one kilometer (1,000 meters), which can make autonomous vehicles safer by providing more time to reactto potential hazards ahead.

The Eyeonic 4D LiDAR chip was recognized by Frost & Sullivan as ideally positioned to disrupt the global LiDAR market, which is rapidly growing in the auto industry as more vehicles come with level-2 autonomous driving features that rely on lidar technology for perception."Our goal is to change the status quo for machine vision," said Mehdi Asghari, SiLC founder and CEO. "Our groundbreaking technology will empower the next generation of machine vision applications with "bionic vision" that will exceed that of humans and yet be compact, cost effective and power efficient."

The term "lidar" is an acronym for "light detection and ranging." For a self-driving vehicle, it acts as an extra set of eyes on the road and is typically paired with cameras and radar. Lidar sensors use pulses of laser light to measure the distance, velocity and shape of an object. 

For a self-driving car, lidar sensors emit millions of these laser pulses per second which reflect off surrounding objects, including vehicles, pedestrians, buildings and road signs. By measuring this time its takes the light to reflect back ("time of flight"), the distance and speed of an object can be calculated in real time. 

Depending on the resolution of the lidar sensor, up to tens of millions of data points can be generated to produce what's known as a  lidar "point cloud", which is used to generate a detailed 3D view of a vehicle's surroundings.

SiLC's Eyeonic Vision Sensor also uses digital processing based on a powerful Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). The benefit of using FPGAs is that they can be customized for a specific computing function after manufacture, unlike the Intel processors powering millions of computers and laptops that run a specific set of instructions or programming logic set in silicon during manufacturing, which can never be altered after its made. FPGA's serve as a blank slate for hardware developers.

SiLC's FPGA technology allows customers to tailor the Eyeonic Vision System for their applications, such as maximum performance for distance or a specific field of vision.

For example, some lidar applications may only require a perception range of around 100 feet, while an autonomous vehicle might need a lidar sensor to track and identify objects up to 1,000 meters ahead. This customization makes the Eyeonic Vision System more versatile across industries.

SiLC's says its new Eyeonic Vision System is turnkey vision solution for automakers, but also be used in other applications, such as robotics, smart cameras, biometrics, security, industrial automation and consumer electronics. In addition, its flexible programmable architecture enables the syncing of multiple vision sensors to improve resolution and accuracy.

SiLC was founded in 2018. The company Investors include Dell Technology Capital, Sony Innovation Fund by Innovation Growth Ventures (IGV), OSRAM Ventures, UMC Capital, Alter Ventures and Epson.

The 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) award committee has named the Eyeonic Vision System an honoree for the CES Innovation Awards. SiLC will be giving live demonstrations of its Eyeonic Vision System at CES in Las Vegas next month. 

SiLC says its Eyeonic Vision System is immediately available and shipping to customers worldwide.

In May, autonomous technology developer AutoX, which is rolling out a robotaxi service in China using a fleet of level-4 self-driving vehicles, announced it selected SiLC's Eyeonic Vision System for its fleet in China.

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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