LeddarTech: Making Mobility Safer and More Efficient

Charles Boulanger, CEO of LeddarTech Inc.
Charles Boulanger, CEO of LeddarTech Inc.

It was a mission to improve safety and quality of life for travelers, commuters, workers, and mobility industry professionals that led to the inception of LeddarTech Inc. The company is doing this by enabling applications that reduce traffic congestion, minimize the risk of road accidents, and improve the overall efficiency of road transport.

Today, LeddarTech is a global leader in environmental sensing platforms for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). It has evolved to become a comprehensive end-to-end environmental sensing company that enables its customers to solve critical sensing and perception challenges across the entire value chain of the automotive and mobility market segments. The company allows Tier-1/2 automotive system manufacturers and integrators to develop full-stack sensing solutions for autonomy level 1 to 5, enhancing ADAS and autonomous driving (AD) capabilities.

At CIO Look, we got into conversation with Charles Boulanger, the Chief Executive Officer of LeddarTech, to know more about the company and how its sensing solutions are enabling the future of autonomous driving.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Describe your core offerings that address the need of your customers.

LeddarTech is responsible for several innovations in cutting-edge automotive and mobility remote sensing applications, with over 100 patented technologies (granted or pending) that are enhancing ADAS and autonomous driving capabilities. Our sensing and perception solutions are best represented by our two core platforms.

LeddarVision™ is a raw-data sensor fusion and perception platform that generates a comprehensive 3D environmental model with cost-effective, multisensor support for camera, radar and LiDAR configurations and that is scalable to support all vehicle automation levels. LeddarVision solves object-level fusion deficiencies of camera & radar in ADAS systems (autonomy levels 2 and 2+) and enables optimized perception performance for further autonomy (levels 3 to 5) with the fusion of camera, radar & LiDAR sensors.

Our second key offering is a versatile LiDAR development platform based on the LeddarEngine™, comprised of LiDAR SoCs and signal processing software, and LeddarSteer™, a game-changing solid-state digital beam steering technology. This platform provides components, software and tools that enable LiDAR developers and Tier-1/2 manufacturers to develop automotive-grade LiDAR sensors to the specific requirements of vehicle OEMs.

These LeddarTech platforms are being deployed beyond just the automotive market: for example, we recently announced the integration of our data sensor fusion and perception platform with Trimble’s existing industry-leading machine control technology to enable intelligent automation in complex work environments. Together, our two companies expect to provide an innovative hardware and software portfolio, improving autonomous machine performance for a variety of industries such as agriculture, construction and mining.

What makes your company a preferred choice among your clientele over other competitors?

Several years ago LeddarTech established the Leddar™ Ecosystem, which is comprised of a select group of world-class partners, suppliers and collaborators that support our customers in their development of automotive sensing solutions for ADAS and AD applications. In tandem with LeddarTech, the Ecosystem provides additional technical expertise, components, software and services leveraging a hardware-agnostic platform that is open and scalable. Its members are prequalified for integration with LeddarTech’s LeddarEngine™ and LeddarVision™ platforms. This Ecosystem maximizes design agility and reduces development cycle time and costs, leading to a faster time-to-market for our customers.

From a business leadership perspective, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the automotive sector and the related market?

The pandemic initially slowed things down on the autonomous vehicle initiatives side and slightly affected some aspects of ADAS development. However, it rapidly became clear that consumers are prepared to pay more for vehicles with advanced features that increase safety and efficiency, add comfort and improve their quality of life.

Society has become more sensitive to these factors, and mobility is at the center of it all. People want more flexibility and freedom, and these requirements influence the way they buy a car. This will be a big incentive for automotive OEMs to offer new, more advanced features as people become more receptive to new paradigms towards more efficient, autonomous vehicles. Today we are seeing trends in technology that, in the end, will have positive impacts on the industry despite the pandemic.

In your opinion, what could be the future of the automotive market post the COVID-19 pandemic? And how are you strategizing your company’s operations for that future?

The automotive industry has entered its most significant evolution of the last 100 years due to innovations in technology and software. Cars today are essentially “data on wheels”, increasingly software defined and silicone-intensive, with features that evolve rapidly to integrate advances in technology. LeddarTech is very well positioned for this phase because we enable unique software-based sensing and perception solutions that provide the necessary flexibility to scale and adapt the hardware for the evolution of ADAS and for the gradual progression towards autonomous vehicles.

In what ways have you or your company contributed to the community?

LeddarTech’s mission is to improve the safety and quality of life for travelers, commuters, workers and mobility industry professionals by enabling applications that reduce traffic congestion, which leads to lower CO2 emissions, minimizes the risk of road accidents and improves the overall efficiency of transport.

Each LeddarTech employee is aware of this higher purpose and comes to work every day with the motivation to develop and enable new technologies that will ultimately benefit their community and the world at large.

Our company and our employees are also involved more directly in helping our local communities. For example, LeddarTech has a long-standing commitment with the United Way (called “Centraide” in Quebec). We have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help support local community agencies and organizations that fight poverty and social inequities. The global pandemic shed new light on the critical work accomplished by such local organizations and we are proud of our continued commitment as we enter 2022.

What are your future aspirations? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

We have positioned ourselves in a particular leadership role in enabling mass deployment of ADAS and AD by enabling LiDAR makers, tier 1s and OEMs to reduce the complexity, time and cost of implementing such solutions that meet both customers and regulatory requirements. We intend to relentlessly pursue this endeavor in line with our corporate mission.

Exemplifying Excellence

“Early in 2017, OSRAM recognized LeddarTech’s promising technological LiDAR approach based on unique software and hardware components and therefore invested $70 million to become a major shareholder. Since then, we have committed over $70 million more on developing LiDAR products, which has allowed OSRAM to offer LiDAR solutions to Tier 1s and OEMs that meet their cost and performance requirements for mass deployment.” -Dr Olaf Berlien, CEO of OSRAM Licht AG

“Trimble has been connecting the physical and digital worlds with our best-in-class automation technologies for more than 20 years—whether it is in agriculture, construction or mining. We see the demand for operator assistance, autonomous machines and workflow optimization accelerating dramatically and alliances such as this are a critical part of how we will bring added value to our customers in all levels of autonomy.” -Finlay Wood, business area director for Trimble’s Autonomous Solutions Division

“Omni Design is delivering high-performance data converters in advanced process nodes to enable the next generation of products in automotive, 5G and AI markets. We are pleased to be collaborating with LeddarTech on their next-generation LiDAR SoC to enable mass deployment of solid-state LiDAR in the automotive market by automotive Tier 1s and other LiDAR makers.”- Dr. Kush Gulati, President and CEO of Omni Design Technologies