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On the way to automated driving with lidar sensors

Dr. Mustafa Kamil talks about the key technology for fully automated driving

Mustafa Kamil sitting in a car.

2021-09-09

For automated driving to become a reality, the vehicle must perceive its surroundings more effectively and safer than humans can, at all times. Alongside cameras, radar and ultrasonic, a further sensor principle is required in order to achieve this goal. That is why Bosch is working on the series development of a lidar (light detection and ranging) sensor that can be used in automobiles, thus making inroads into the key technology for fully automated driving.

Since joining the company, Mustafa Kamil has been involved in the development of lidar technology at Bosch. In the beginning, he was working on the subject with colleagues from R and D. Now he is sub-project manager of the testing area as a part of the system department within the lidar product development. With his testing team of around 30 members, Mustafa puts the performance and safety of the sensor to the test in the lab, on proving grounds and on the street.

Dr. Mustafa Kamil, Project Manager — Complex Sensors Verification and Validation at Bosch

What makes lidar sensors indispensable for automated driving?

The different sensor principles complement each other optimally in their strengths. For example, when the ambient light changes from bright to dark upon entering a tunnel, it can briefly pose a challenge for the camera — much the same as with a human eye. Meanwhile the lidar sensor remains majorly unimpeded by the change in light conditions, and can reliably recognize objects at the entrance to the tunnel in these critical milliseconds. It operates as a laser-based distance meter, depicting objects in high resolution. Its laser beam is projected onto objects, which it then senses when the light is reflected back again. Based on the time that it takes for the light to come back, the sensor measures the distance and then generates a 3D representation of the vehicle’s surroundings.

What exactly are you responsible for in lidar development?

As sub-project manager within the lidar development, I am responsible for the verification and validation of the lidar sensor. We test the sensor in the lab as well as in the vehicle itself, on test tracks and on public roads. Among other aspects, we examine performance parameters such as the detection range or the angular resolution.

View of a lidar

Which challenges are you currently faced with?

A former supervisor once told me that a lidar sensor is like a plate of spaghetti: As soon as you try to grab one piece, the others move as well. If you want to make the sensor smaller, this affects properties such as the visual field-of-view or detection range, for example. Optimizing all components in such a way that they do not impede other variables is technically challenging and shows the high complexity of the sensor. However, we have an advantage in that our team consists of many very bright sparks from the fields of mathematics, physics, electrotechnics, IT, software and optics. Behind the scenes of the lidar project are a high number of colleagues from Germany, Portugal, India, Japan, USA and China, who all cooperate in a very target- and success- oriented manner, and thus play a vital role in ensuring the product’s success. This wide range of specialties and experience makes it possible for us to overcome even these complex challenges.

Mustafa and a part of his team

You presented the lidar sensor at the IAA Mobility 2021. How important was this event for you?

We demonstrated the latest technology of our sensor at this event. We are sure that we were able to convince the vehicle manufacturers with our high-performance sensor. Presenting our product at the IAA Mobility was an important milestone for us — and also a great honor for me personally: Growing up, I was a huge fan of this important automobile trade fair, and the event was always a must-visit for me. Fast-forward several years, and to know the technology that I helped to develop over the course of one product generation will be on show to the world’s public at this event is a huge honor and a real success.

How important is it to display — and celebrate — professional success?

Everyone is motivated by different things. That is something I have learned over the years. For example, we have team members who are extremely motivated when they can dive deep into the technology. Others, who enjoy communicating and presenting, tend to be all-rounders. This influences role distribution within the team. In this regard, there are also always preferences, which I try to uncover by talking to my colleagues in person. If everyone can contribute their personal strengths, this leads to the highest level of motivation and the most successful results.

At the same time, it is important to celebrate successes together. We do so by going out together after work, for example. But it is equally important to highlight good work as part of daily operations as well. Whether that be in emails or in meetings at a project and department level.

  • Mustafa and his team at the test car
  • Mustafa and his colleagues during a test

If there are successes to celebrate, it is the sign of a good manager to take a step back and let the team enjoy the moment and feedback. Because it is never just the work of one person that leads to our success.

Dr. Mustafa Kamil

Where does your own motivation come from? What excites you about your job?

Even as a child, I wanted to learn how technology works and even often dismantled toy cars and other small devices and put them back together again. What drives me most today is the desire to improve technology. We are still faced with complex challenges when it comes to automated driving. That is why we are always working at the very edge of what is technically possible — for me, that is completely fascinating and fulfilling. Also because our work ensures that there is more safety, technical experience and comfort, and at the end of the day, will improve and ultimately save many people’s lives. In other words, invented for life.

Mustafa Kamil during testing

Dr. Mustafa Kamil, Project Manager — Complex Sensors Verification and Validation at Bosch

In his role as sub-project manager at Bosch, Mustafa Kamil works on lidar sensors and is responsible for the testing department area within the sensor development. He was already focused on sensors, system development and signal processing during his studies and PhD in the research field of electrical engineering. He continued in the same vein at Bosch: Mustafa has been working with lidar sensors since he joined the company in 2015 – firstly in the corporate sector research and advance engineering in Renningen and then in the Chassis Systems Control department business unit; today he works in Cross-Domain Computing Solutions.

Mustafa Kamil in Portrait

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