BASF Touts Lidar-Friendly Coatings

December 20, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Chemical giant BASF SE says it has developed a coating technology to help lidar sensors in autonomous cars better detect nearby dark-colored vehicles.

The coating uses “functional” pigments that reduce near-infrared (NIR) absorption and reflective layers that return lidar wavelengths to the host vehicle.

Carbon black-based pigmentations used in dark colors such as black, grey and blue absorb NIR radiation. BASF says even small amounts of carbon black used to tint a light color can lessen lidar performance.

With the new BASF coating, NIR radiation can travel through a dark basecoat with minimal absorption. A reflective layer serves as a mirror to reflect lidar signals and prevent them from being absorbed by subsequent layers within the coating stack, according to the supplier.

BASF developed a concept color called Centripetal Blue—a dark blue that that the company says appears similar to white to lidar systems—as part of its annual Automotive Color Trends earlier this year. The company hopes to put the technology in a production model within five years.