Forbes Magazine on Quanergy — This Startup Has The Technology That Can Put Autonomous Cars On The Road In 2019
by Liane Yvkoff
Forbes | November 20, 2015
The road to autonomous cars is paved with sensors, radars, cameras, and most importantly, LiDARs.
“You cannot build autonomous cars without LiDAR, and anyone who thinks differently, please challenge me.”
This statement about laser radar systems was made by Louay Eldada, CEO of Quanergy, to a crowd at the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles, Calif., but it seemed directed to Tesla CEO Elon Musk or anyone who may have listened to his press conference in October when he announced the availability of AutoPilot.
During the announcement, Musk said he wasn’t a fan of using LiDAR in the automotive space. LiDAR is mashup of Laser Imaging Radar, and it refers to a hardware and software component that tracks, measures, identifies, and classifies objects, and makes a decision on what next to do. Although Musk said he uses them at SpaceX, he believes that autonomous cars can be achieved using 360-degree cameras and radars, even in rain and snow.
That’s fine for highways where you won’t encounter humans or animals, says Eldada, but the moment you have autonomous vehicles in a pedestrian environment, you will hit 1 out of 100 people.
“You need 99 followed by 10 9s before that risk is acceptable,” he explains.
Most experts agree that LiDAR is needed, and if there is an argument against using this technology, it’s likely because of its cost. The units currently used by concept autonomous vehicles run in the thousands of dollars, which is a non-starter in the world of vehicle manufacturing. Cameras, on the other hand, cost pennies at volume. That will change with the onset of Quanergy’s solid state LiDAR, which Eldada keeps under wraps in a black cloth bag about the size of a point-and-shoot camera. Its next-generation system will be the key to unlocking true self-driving capabilities for vehicles because it has no moving parts, which means it won’t break. This level of reliability is essential for autonomously driven vehicles because it’s a mission critical component, and it also increases accuracy and reduces accidents. But even it’s the missing link for autonomous drive, it’s not enough to be unbreakable—it has to be cheap.
Quanergy’s solid state LiDAR will retail to manufacturers for $250, and will cost about half that amount to manufacture. Eldada said this price point has been validated by Delphi, which participated in the $44.5 million Series A financing round. The company has partnered with Flextronics in Milpitas, Calif. to manufacture this component, which will begin in Q3 of 2016, and the laser company is in six non-exclusive partner agreements with suppliers who will bring this to market, although he shared that he is closest with Delphi.
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based start-up is working with several manufacturers, and Eldada says with an air of certainty that consumers will see production autonomous vehicles on the road in 2019.
“Autonomous vehicles that are safe, well-tested, and delivered by reputable companies will launch in 2019 under a 2020 model year,” he said.
Lending credence to his prediction, his manufacturing forecasts expects 100,000 vehicles globally to be equipped with his LiDARs in 2019, each requiring two units. However, “more aggressive” manufacturers will begin using his LiDARs in Q4 2016. For confidentiality reasons, he could not say on which manufacturer or vehicles, but he shared that next year Quanergy’s solid-state LiDAR will be unveiled on three concept vehicles at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show: two Mercedes-Benz GLE450 vehicles shown by Quanergy and Nvidia, and a Volvo XC90 shown by Delphi.
The November 20, 2015 Forbes article by Liane Yvkoff can be found here:http://www.forbes.com/sites/lianeyvkoff/2015/11/20/quanergy-expect-truly-autonomous-vehicles-in-2019-as-2020-model-year/
Quanergy CEO Louay Eldada speaking at a press conference at the 2015 Connected Car Expo, Los Angeles Auto Show.