Today, Microvision released details regarding its long awaited automotive LiDAR A-Sample. Click here to read for yourself .
In that press release, CEO Sumit Sharma stated:
“I believe our differentiated, high-performance lidar sensor has the potential to advance autonomous driving and active safety systems beyond current sensors announced in the automotive market. I expect that a version of this lidar sensor could be available for sale, in initial quantities, in the third or fourth quarter of 2021,” continued Sharma.
“With an expected range of 250 meters and a field of view of 100 degrees horizontal by 30 degrees vertical, we expect this lidar sensor to provide the highest resolution point cloud at 10.8 million points per second while operating at 30 hertz. Additionally, this lidar sensor is designed to be immune to interference from sunlight and other lidars. One of the ground breaking proprietary features of this lidar sensor is its capability to output the axial, lateral and vertical velocity of moving objects at 30 hertz,” added Sharma. “We believe no lidar product on the market, ranging from frequency modulated continuous wave to time-of-flight, has this capability. To achieve safety and successful autonomous driving, we believe this capability delivered at low latency will be a key feature.” (quote taken directly from source)
These are huge revelations. The capabilities are impressive on their own and the confidence in Mr. Sharma’s previous public statements of Microvision’s LiDAR being “best in class.”
Mr. Sharma also hinted at this LiDAR being a fundamental changer with regards to financial outlooks in the near term with sales potentially beginning as early as 3rd quarter of 2021.
To my knowledge, no LiDAR product with similar or better specs will be available for production this soon.
Additionally, photos submitted by the company have been circulated around the web. These photos were examined closely by members of the Gator Traders discord and the R/MVIS communities and an unexpected discovery was made.
A potential NVIDA card was spotted inside the MVIS LiDAR.
Why is all of this important?
Let’s first examine the autonomous vehicle market, discover what LiDAR is, and what kind of financial outlook does the autonomous vehicle industry have. If you’re familiar with all of this, skip down a few sections and jump right into the MVIS / NVIDIA connection.
Let’s get to work…
What is Automotive LiDAR . . .
Everyone has heard of RADAR. Radio (wave) Detection And Ranging. LiDAR is similar, only it detects light instead of radio waves. This light is usually some form of laser and the unit measures the reflection of the light off of an object. This sounds simple until you put it on an autonomous vehicle.
Vehicles encounter countless obstacles on every commute whether traveling to the grocery store down the road or across the country. Dogs, pedestrians, objects, other vehicles…you name it. We’ve all had at least one of these try to kill us while we are minding our own business driving to and fro.
Vehicle commerce and individual transportation is not something that is going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s growing. The American Truckers Industry alone expects a 25% increase in overall freight tonnage by 2030. That means more trucks. More trucks and more goods logically means that more people are out there wanting stuff nearby.
Roadways across the nation are already crowded. In the US alone, 289 million vehicles are registered to operate on the roadways. With commuters spending 34 hours per year on average in traffic congestion and the population growth, crowded roadways do not look to be going away anytime soon.
While less injuries and fatalities have occurred yearly since 1990 due to advancements in roadway and vehicle safety designs, the numbers are still alarming. 2-3 million people are injured and 30-50 thousand people are killed each year in vehicle related incidents.
Autonomous driving and collision avoidance systems could drastically reduce this number.
Think about it. People aren’t perfect. They get distracted by smart phones, cool cars, the radio, other people in the car…you name it. People also get intoxicated and people sometimes just fall asleep at the wheel due to sleep deprivation, boredom, or the aforementioned intoxication.
Whatever the distraction, substance, or other cause, people get into vehicle wrecks. I’ve been in a few and certainly you have too. Can crashes become a thing of the past? Can the leading cause of the death, which is now currently roadway incidents, finally be dethroned by something a little more natural and at a much older, fuller age?
Engineers at companies like Microvision are betting on it and expecting a huge reward.
Money. Lots of Money . . .
The autonomous vehicle sector is expected to grow to $3,195 billion by 2030. Nearer term, the market from current date is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% for $1,912 billion by 2023. Source
A company getting a head start in this industry by getting a visually suitable, robust, and fully functioning LiDAR into this market could potentially capture a large portion of these funds.
Now, we’re talking about the autonomous vehicle industry as a whole, not just LiDAR. But something has to give cars the “eyes” to see and currently, LiDAR seems to be one very possible solution especially after Tesla’s visual based auto-pilot seems hell-bent on killing humanity. To date, Tesla’s autopilot is being investigated in 23 separate incidents by National Highway Safety Traffic Administration according to this article.
What Makes MVIS LiDAR Stand Out . . .
If a picture says a thousand words, then these two pictures speak millions. What makes MVIS LiDAR stand out, first and foremost, is that it doesn’t stand out.
Look at the above pictures. One has a Lexus for size reference.
The other has a postage stamp next to it for size reference.
The one with the postage stamp is MVIS newest A-Sample. The one that resembles the Ghostbuster’s car is a Luminar….experiment? It’s either an experiment or it is an attempt at scanning for advanced life on other worlds while getting groceries.
Form and function matter. I’m the kind of guy that will happily drive around in a busted up vehicle that is paid off and I still have enough dignity to where I wouldn’t want that contraption on top of my vehicle. How would you even wash that thing anyway?
Yes we all know that LAZR is working on their Hydra LiDAR that is much smaller, but even their own pictures show exterior changes to the vehicle as being necessary to equip their mechanical and larger LiDAR device. These visual changes might not sit well with every buyer, especially on sportier cars with smoother curves.
Microvision, on the other hand provided investors (and potential partners / buyers / customers) with a much more sensible approach.
Fix that puppy to the inside of the vehicle, hang a rearview off of it, and call it a day. This actually makes sense.
We spoke about form. What about function?
Here are some provided by Mr. Sumit Sharma (CEO MVIS) today:
- 250 meters range
- 100 degree horizontal field of view
- 30 degree vertical field of view
- 10.8 million resolution point cloud per second (highest known available) operating at 30htz
- immune to sunlight and other LiDAR
- proprietary capability to output the axial, lateral, and vertical velocity of moving objects at 30htz
The challenge is open to any competitors. If I find an updated graphic of competitor statistics or a confirmed list, I’ll add it in here at a later date.
Mr. Sharma seems confident that, currently, MVIS has no real competitor in the automotive sector and he might be right.
MVIS has 400+ patents and has been working diligently on this technology for years.
LiDAR and Artificial Intelligence?
This gizmo is your every day household whatchamacallit.
That’s what I knew about it before this afternoon. I got some education from a few of my discord members. (Shoutout to Wizard Coder, Asleep at the Switch, s2upid (of course), and SteveyLongJorts, and Liquid Spy!)
This thingamajig is actually an NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX and it is advertised as the “world’s smallest AI Super Computer.”
Now, please understand that I know more about a fishing reel than I do about these high tech marvels and if you’ve ever heard me speak on YouTube, you know this is the truth. I’m sure we can get someone in the comments section on here to really give us the details on what this thing is fully capable of, right? (this is me begging)
What I do know is that I understand what machine based learning is and I had a great conversation on how this thing works similar to a brain with neural networks and pathways. Can I explain it? Not a chance. Not yet. But why this is needed makes sense when you start putting some of this stuff together with some good old fashioned logic.
Objects on a highway move. Pedestrians move. Vehicles move. That annoying dog that tries to commit suicide by biting your tires while you’re doing 30 on a backroad moves.
A detection system has to be able to not only identify that something is in the roadway, but has to react accordingly to where it is going to be and how fast it is going to get there. Not only is ranging needed, but so is a determination of velocity and trajectory of anything that might cause a crash.
Once the LiDAR picks up an object inside of its massive point cloud, the computer will need to figure out if that object is going to pose a problem then decide what to do about it. Swerve left? Brake a little? Drift around it like a boss?
It will also need to communicate with other sensors around the vehicle to see if those actions are going to make YOUR VEHICLE a hazard to another driver.
As Liquid Spy put it: “basically it is the tiny computer that will run the proprietary software to detect objects and calculate axial, lateral, and vertical velocity of moving objects”
And this isn’t the first time that NVIDIA has found itself involved with autonomous vehicles. Up until 2019, Tesla was using NVIDIA chips for their Autopilot hardware.
That module on the lower right sure does look exactly like that NVIDIA picture, doesn’t it?
This means that Microvision is not only ready to test the specs of it’s LiDAR. It might also be ready to strap it into a vehicle if they already haven’t done so.
If they have, how would we know? To my knowledge the company hasn’t said they have and we wouldn’t notice it like we would the primitive looking arrays of competing LiDAR companies.
This could mean more news from the company in the near future. Oh look…there’s a conference call tomorrow (April 29th 2021 after Earnings) and an Annual Shareholders Meeting on May 26th, 2021.
Oh by the way, Ford and NVIDIA both have events on May 26th as well.
Could one of those events provide a financial game changer for MVIS or be the announcement of a strategic partnership, customer, or merger?
It’ll be exciting to find out.
CONCLUSION . . .
The tired old argument that short seller’s biased articles and their trolling comments across social media appears to just have expired. MVIS does have a product and their technology is best in class according to available specs from across the automotive LiDAR industry.
It would be illogical for them to continue to make the point that “no one wants this tech” when we seen the Lexus version of the Ghostbusters car earlier in this article and we’ve all seen pictures of Velodyne’s odd hockey puck devices; which, by the way, do not offer competitive specs that I’ve seen.
Auto manufactures DO want a product in their vehicles as soon as able and MVIS is offering a solution ready for production in months, not years.
There is proof that the technology is at least sporting a powerful chip that is theoretically capable of handling the workload created by the massive point cloud with machine learning capabilities and the ability to output an appropriate response.
And (as the TV informercials would say) THAT’S NOT ALL!! MVIS is also highly likely to be a key component of Microsoft’s 22 billion dollar IVAS contract that I wrote about a few weeks ago from my own perspective as a combat soldier. If that isn’t enough to excite potential investors, how about a potential near term price target to the upside of $36.77?
Between a viable and very real automotive LiDAR device potentially years ahead of the competition, the HoloLens 2 , and the IVAS it would seem that little ole MVIS is poised to take the future world by storm with a potential valuation in the billions.
Perhaps that last statement is incorrect…
It’s happening now.
Thank you for reading. Have a GREAT rest of your week. Take care and GOD BLESS!!
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