Allegro MicroSystems (Allegro), has announced the acquisition of Voxtel, a privately held company specialising in advanced photonic and 3D imaging technology including long-range, eye-safe Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR).

This acquisition brings together Voxtel’s laser and imaging expertise with Allegro’s automotive leadership and scale to enable the next generation of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

Voxtel has been pioneering photonics since 1999, developing cutting-edge solutions for military, space, automotive and surveillance applications. Its ultra-miniature lasers, read-out integrated circuits (ROICs), and near-infrared (NIR) and short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) photodetectors, supported by more than 38 US patents, represent one of the broadest LADAR/LiDAR photonic technology suites available in the market today.

Allegro has a strong portfolio of motor drivers, position sensors, regulators, and current sensors already and by combining with photonics, will be able to provide most of the key semiconductor components in the transmit and receive blocks of automotive LiDAR systems.

“Allegro is a market leader in magnetic sensors for the automotive market. Annually, we ship more than 1 billion devices into automotive systems – 100 million of which are shipped into advanced automotive safety systems, including semi-autonomous vehicle systems,” said Ravi Vig, CEO of Allegro. “Our experience, scale and design for quality uniquely position us to enhance the Voxtel LiDAR portfolio for ADAS applications, aiming to make LiDAR systems safer, cost-effective, and widely adopted features in the cars of the future.”

LiDAR typically uses lasers, photodetectors, and read-out integrated circuits (ROICs) with time-of-flight (TOF) capability to measure distance by illuminating a target and analysing the reflected light. LiDAR technology provides the high-resolution, three-dimensional information about the surrounding environment necessary to make fully autonomous driving a reality. It also supports adaptive cruise control, complements car cameras and radar and adds situational awareness.

A barrier to broad adoption of LiDAR technology in vehicles has been the restriction of maximum power output of the laser in order to comply with eye safety guidelines. As a result of this acquisition, Allegro’s photonics portfolio now includes devices made in silicon and InGaAs, providing components for both eye-safe, long-range 1D or 2D scanned front-facing LiDAR and side- or rear-facing FLASH LiDAR.

Devices based on InGaAs operate at wavelengths at which the human eye is less sensitive (1500 – 1600nm), enabling higher laser power levels for longer range object detection beyond 200 meters.