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Automotive 3D sensing with advanced VCSEL laser technology

VCSELs are gaining momentum in advanced automotive 3D sensing applications.

Using VCSEL laser technology for advanced automotive 3D sensing

Automotive technologies can leverage the power of VCSELs (Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser) for all sorts of sensor applications inside and outside the cabin. Driver monitoring systems, cabin interior monitoring, illumination, smart lighting, LiDAR, autonomous driving, and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) are just a few examples of emerging applications in the industry. 

Why use VCSELs for automotive 3D sensing?

A growing number of 3D sensing applications are emerging in automotive design and in autonomous vehicles such as LiDAR, driver and occupant monitoring and driver control systems. In the automotive sector, VCSEL solutions for automotive sensors are ideal for compact, high productive and high reliability component designs.

Small footprint

VCSEL solutions can come in small packages. Their footprint is up to 5-10 times smaller than competing technologies.

Extended functionalities

Achieve a smaller footprint and more freedom in optical design by adding smart functionalities to VCSEL diodes, such as monolithically integrating micro-optics.

Solutions for inside and outside the car

VCSELs support vehicle in-cabin and out-cabin solutions. They offer short and long-range solutions for illumination.

Very fast pulsing mode

Ideal for LiDAR applications, low rise and fall times of optical pulses enable ultrashort pulses with high peak power. 

VCSEL arrays for next-generation automotive solutions will be standard in a few years. Product and process evaluation are ongoing, as is setting official standards to enable VCSELs to become standard components in vehicles.

Ralph Gudde

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How is VCSEL technology used in automotive sensing applications?

Powered by developments in autonomous driving, advanced optical 3D sensing solutions have become critical to ensure safety. VCSELs are extremely eye-safe for car sensors and can support in-cabin monitoring for automotive applications, more specifically driver monitoring. VCSELs also support outside the cabin applications such as LiDAR to control the outer space around passenger cars. VCSELs with monolithically integrated optics offer long lifetime, a small footprint and can be scaled for long-range applications. Various sensors as temperature sensors, oxygen sensors, speed sensors, image sensors, cameras, radar and other functionalities are supported by VCSEL-powered automotive sensor technology.

In-cabin and out-cabin solutions

In-Cabin Sensing

With autonomous and self-driving capabilities rapidly evolving in the automotive industry, vehicle driver and occupant monitoring and driver control systems are absolutely critical. VCSEL sensor technology can be used for vehicle safety monitoring as well as gesture control to automate and for safer and more convenient usage of various consumer applications inside the vehicle. Automotive optical sensing applications can rely on high-performance VCSELs to ensure driver safety. 


LiDAR (Light imaging, detection and ranging) is used for proximity sensing or speed sensing. In autonomous driving, LiDAR is a mandatory technology. VCSEL arrays are perfectly suitable for LiDAR applications. Very low rise and fall times of the optical pulses enables ultra-short pulses with high peak powers. Addressability of different segments on the VCSEL arrays can improve the system performance significantly.

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