ABI Research is advising LiDAR developers to focus on non-automotive use cases in the immediate future. Self-driving vehicles are still expected to be one of the primary applications of LiDAR technology in the long-term, but that market will take several years to reach maturity, so smart city and industrial applications will offer more opportunities in the next few years.
In that regard, ABI is predicting that there will be 16 million LiDAR sensors in circulation in smart city, security, and industrial verticals by 2030. There will be another 13 million sensors installed in cars in that same time frame, but much of that activity is expected to come in the second half of the decade.
LiDAR technology is appealing because it offers better range, reliability, and resolution than more conventional surveillance options like cameras, radar, and infrared sensors. That’s especially true in large outdoor environments where administrators need to track the movements of people and objects in an open space. For example, city planners can install LiDAR technology at intersections to make roads safer and improve the flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, while retail establishments can use it to enforce occupancy limits and gather customer data. Such technology can make public spaces safer during the pandemic, while the data can produce efficiency gains and enable a better overall customer experience.
On the security front, LiDAR can be used in surveillance operations at borders, and for access control and perimeter defense at data centers, power plants, and offices, amongst other facilities. In those cases, LiDAR can be deployed alongside other biometric sensors to provide an additional layer of security.
Finally, LiDAR can also help automate operations in the industrial sector. Robots with LiDAR sensors will be able to carry out more complex tasks and navigate more diverse environments, which will in turn make those facilities safer and more productive.
“These IoT markets have less concentrated ecosystems representing both much larger addressable markets in terms of the number of potential buyers and more promising profit margins compared with automotive,” said ABI End Markets and Verticals VP Dominique Bonte.
According to Bonte, solid-state LiDAR sensors will help reduce the price of the technology and fuel the further expansion of the market. The number of key players is expected to drop from more than 100 to between 10 and 20 as the market matures. VCSEL developer Seoul Viosys expects that market to hit $2.7 billion in the next five years, while SiLC has raised $17 million in Series A funding and Ouster raised $42 million in a Series B round.