Hyundai Motor, Kia and KAIST Form Joint Research Laboratory to Develop Next–Generation Autonomous Driving Sensors
  • Hyundai Motor Group–KAIST On–Chip LiDAR Joint Research Lab at the KAIST HQ in Daejeon to develop LiDAR sensors for advanced autonomous vehicles
  • Lab aims to develop essential high–performance, compact on–chip sensors and new signal detection technology
  • On–chip sensors to reduce the size of LiDAR system compared to conventional methods and secure price competitiveness through mass production using semiconductor fabrication processes
Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation have announced that they are partnering with KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), to develop next–generation autonomous driving sensors.

Established in 1971, by the Korean government, KAIST is Korea's first public, research-oriented science and engineering institution. It may be recalled that, in 2009, KAIST researchers unveiled an electric transport system where the vehicles get their power needs from cables underneath the surface of the road via non-contact magnetic charging.

It may be recalled that in 2018, researchers from 30 countries boycotted KAIST due to an allegation that KAIST was starting an AI weapons research project together with the Korean arms manufacturer Hanwa. The allegations were of developing lethal autonomous weapons. Later the institute denied the existence of such project.

Years later, now Hyundai Motor, Kia and KAIST are joining together to establish the ‘Hyundai Motor Group–KAIST On–Chip LiDAR Joint Research Lab’ at KAIST in Daejeon to develop LiDAR sensors for advanced autonomous vehicles.

The joint research lab aims to develop high–performance and compact on–chip sensors and new signal detection technology that are essential in the increasingly competitive autonomous driving market.
On-Chip LiDAR joint laboratory establishment and agreement ceremony
On-Chip LiDAR joint laboratory establishment and agreement ceremony

On–chip sensors, which utilize semiconductor manufacturing technology to add various functions, can reduce the size of LiDAR compared to conventional methods and secure price competitiveness through mass production using semiconductor fabrication processes.

In addition, the current LiDAR sensors measure the distance to objects by emitting and measuring the time it takes for light to return. However, the next–generation signal detection method, called Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW), emits light with a frequency that varies over time and analyzes the frequency shift of the returning light to detect distance.

Compared to existing methods, this technology has less signal noise, can calculate relative speed with objects, and can exclude interference from external light sources such as sunlight, making it relatively advantageous in severe weather conditions.

The joint research lab will consist of about 30 researchers, including the Hyundai–Kia Institute of Advanced Technology Development research team and KAIST professors Sang–Hyeon Kim, Sangsik Kim, Wanyeong Jung and Hamza Kurt from KAIST’s School of Electrical Engineering, and will be in operation for four years until 2028.

KAIST will be leading the specialized work of each research team, such as the development of silicon optoelectronic on–chip LiDAR components, fabrication of high–speed, high–power integrated circuits to run the LiDAR systems, and the optimization and verification of LiDAR systems.

Hyundai Motor and Kia, together with Hyundai NGV, a specialized industry–academia cooperation institution, will oversee the operation of the joint research lab and provide support, such as monitoring technological trends, suggesting research directions, deriving core ideas and recommending technologies and experts to enhance research capabilities.

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