Nikon is set to partner with Aeva, an American startup founded by former Apple employees, to develop LiDAR technology.

The partnership between the Japanese camera manufacturer and the Silicon Valley-based startup was announced this Tuesday, noting a particular focus on LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology. Aeva‘s LiDAR technology, which was chiefly used in their autonomous driving projects prior to this partnership, will be used in highly precise measurement tools for auto and aircraft manufacturing, while also allowing Nikon to cultivate a new market as demand for cameras declines. Through the partnership, the two companies aim to bring these products to market by 2025, accelerating broad adoption of LiDAR in the $10 billion industrial automation and metrology markets.

Aeva was launched in 2017 by CEO Soroush Salehian and President Mina Rezk, both Apple alums involved in managing sensor development at the multinational technology company. The startup’s LiDAR sensors work much like radar, but instead of bouncing radio waves off objects to gauge distance, LiDAR uses laser light. The company has packed LiDAR technology into compact chips that can enable autonomous vehicles to detect objects hundred of metres away, and measure an object’s velocity using frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDAR technology. The company has also ventured into consumer health and industrial robotics.

“We are delighted with the opportunity to use Aeva’s ground-breaking technology to jointly bring to market metrology solutions that provide our industrial customers with unmatched functionality,” said Tadashi Nakayama, CEO of Nikon Metrology.

In measuring equipment, LiDAR sensors can produce highly accurate measurements at short distances. Nikon and Aeva aim to develop measuring instruments that would allow engineers to run highly accurate quality checks throughout the manufacturing process, spotting and rectifying defects while saving time and resources.

“This solution will achieve measurements with micron-level accuracy,” Rezk said in a news release.

Nikon has previously produced laser measuring tools for automakers including BMW and Fiat’s parent company Stellantis, as well as for major aerospace companies.


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