The ES2: True solid-state high-performance digital lidar
When Mark and I explored starting a lidar company back in 2015, we had an agreement: we would only start a company if we felt the technology could (1) yield the highest performance sensors, (2) be manufactured reliably and at low cost, and (3) lead the transition to true solid-state lidar required by the consumer automotive market. With our experience in the lidar industry, we knew these three attributes were key to long-term success—and no one at the time had an approach that would meet all three.
After exploring the performance of a number of laser and detector technologies, and, critically, their headroom for future improvement, we made a bet on a VCSEL and SPAD based digital approach, and Ouster was born. Digital lidar technology had the Moore’s law-esque improvement potential, the commercially viable cost structure, and the ability to scale from a mechanical to a fully solid-state architecture. Today, in a major step toward realizing our founding vision, we are proud to announce the true solid-state ES2 digital lidar sensor.
Ouster has dedicated the past 5 years to commercializing the lowest-cost high-performance lidar sensors in the world, and today we are proud to announce the next stage in our journey: the ES2 solid-state digital lidar sensor. We believe the ES2 will be the first high-performance solid-state digital lidar sensor, featuring a range of 200+ meters for 10% reflective objects and an angular resolution of 0.1°. These sensors are based on the identical digital lidar technology that powers our mechanical sensors and will hit a $600 price point for automotive production.
The availability of high-performance, reliable, and low-cost lidar sensors like the ES2 opens up a huge opportunity for automakers to bring advanced autonomy features into mainstream use in the consumer ADAS market. The ES2's true solid-state design enables this future through the use of proprietary electronic scanning technology. Where our mechanical sensors feature a one-dimensional column of lasers that are scanned across a scene, the solid-state ES2 features tens of thousands of lasers printed into a 2D grid, with each column of lasers firing sequentially in order to scan the environment. There are zero moving parts.
The ES2 is designed for automotive and industrial applications and will be initially available to select partners capable of bringing the product to market at scale. Over time, we will make the ES2 available for general purpose as we have done with our other products.
We started Ouster in 2015 because we were convinced that the future of lidar is digital. We believe that today more than ever, and the ES2 is proof of how digital lidar will become ubiquitous and present on every moving object, enabling automation to seamlessly blend into our everyday lives. The ES2 is one large step towards realizing our founding vision, and we’re looking forward to a promising future for Ouster and our customers.