Continental Looks to New Sensor Systems for Autonomous Vehicles

Continental Corp.'s Corporate Technology Officer Kurt Lehmann, left, and Head of Systems and Technology Ralph Lauxmann answer questions at the Continental news conference at CES Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Photo by Erin Wade/BU News Service.
Written by Erin Wade

By Erin Wade
BU News Service

LAS VEGAS — Continental Corp. announced to a packed CES news conference Wednesday its development of smart tires and a 3D Flash LIDAR system.

Both technologies will be integrated into Continental’s autonomous vehicle systems that are already in testing phases, said Corporate Technology Officer Kurt Lehmann and Head of Systems and Technology Ralph Lauxmann.

“We’ll combine the tire information together with the LIDAR and radar information to make a complete picture of the environment, like a human itself is going to do,” Lauxmann said.

Continental’s smart tires will contain sensors that can detect road surface conditions, and its LIDAR will work in much the same way as traditional LIDAR, though Lauxmann said, “The benefit of the solid-state LIDAR is that you do not have any moving parts.”

The two components will work together to give drivers and autonomous vehicles more environmental information. “The LIDAR is the picture of the environment, and then the tire sensor is if you want to see a picture of the surface” the car is driving on, Lehmann said. “So they’re both inputs to the control.”

Lauxmann said placement of the solid-state LIDAR sensors would be similar to camera placement on a self-driving car.

“In order to have a 360 degree picture built by a flash LIDAR, you need … to have four in each corner” of the car, said Lauxmann.

The 3D Flash LIDAR should be available by 2020, according to Lauxmann.

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