Canatu partners with Covestro for LiDAR deicing


Carbon nanomaterial developer Canatu (Vantaa, Finland) and global manufacturer of polymer materials and components Covestro, will showcase a joint LiDAR heater demonstrator at the Canatu booth 4271 / West Hall during CES 2023. The companies are bringing together leading expertise in flexible transparent film heaters, thermoplastic polymers and film insert moulding processing to showcase a state-of-the-art LiDAR cover lens with heating functionality that is highly performant, versatile, and ready for scale-up.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems are critical in the development of autonomous driving. They are used to detect objects and measure distances. However, the reliability of LiDAR through harsh weather conditions is a key challenge. Build-up of ice, snow, or fog on a LiDAR cover lens can block the sensor field of view (FOV) risking inaccurate 3D LiDAR mapping. The jointly realised heated cover lens keeps the LiDAR FOV clear of weather disturbances, advancing autonomous driving in any weather.

“With the trend for electric mobility and assisted driving comes the need for an ever higher degree of functionality for exterior components. To maintain the data quality of front module integrated sensors under all conditions is becoming a paramount requirement. Canatu offers a technology that we think is a very promising candidate for tackling this challenge,” says Dr Maximilian Hemgesberg, segment manager mobility specialty films, EMEA & LATAM, of Covestro.

“By combining Covestro’s highly developed expertise in optical-grade polymers with Canatu’s unique CNT film heater technology, we have jointly developed a functionalised LIDAR cover lens combining high optical properties and effective heating. Together, we are enabling ADAS in any weather without compromising on safety, performance, and functionality,” says Tero Tolonen, chief product officer of Canatu.

The Canatu LiDAR heater offers extremely high transmittance at near infrared light combined with extraordinary high heating performance and processing ability. Canatu film heaters are entirely wire-free at LiDAR FOV enabling even, fast, and power-efficient deicing across the whole surface without optical distortion or laser beam deflection. The Canatu LiDAR heater is fabricated on Covestro Makrofol polycarbonate (PC) film, which offers high heat resistance, LiDAR transparency and 3D formability. The cover lens is made using Covestro Makrolon AG polycarbonate, which is extremely robust, laser transparent, available in various colours and ideal for high-precision lens moulding.

The entire LiDAR cover lens has been fabricated by film insert moulding (FIM) process. FIM enables one-step fabrication of plastic components with decorated and functional surfaces. During the process, the Canatu LiDAR heater is shaped and trimmed before being placed in an injection mould and back injected with a thermoplastic resin. FIM eliminates the need for separate steps that would otherwise be required to decorate or functionalise plastic components.

The final moulded part is LiDAR permeable and wire-free, providing undistorted FOV for the laser beam to create an accurate 3D LiDAR mapping of the surroundings. The performance of the final moulded part can be further supported by applying functional coatings, such as anti-reflective (AR) or hard coating (HR) on the back and front surfaces. Canatu LiDAR heaters can be flexibly tailored to meet customer heating, optical, and design requirements across a range of input voltages.

Caption: Film insert moulded LiDAR heater using Canatu CNT and Covestro Makrofol and Makrolon (photo: Canatu)

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