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Ford & Baidu investing $75 million in autonomous vehicle sensor company Velodyne LiDAR

Published: August 17, 2016 | California, US

Chinese search engine company Baidu and autonomous giant Ford are going to invest $75 million in Velodyne LiDAR, making a total investment of  $150 million. The investment will allow Velodyne to rapidly expand the design and production of high performance, cost effective automotive LiDAR sensors, accelerating mass adoption in autonomous vehicle and ADAS applications and therefore accelerating the critical, transformative benefits they provide.

Velodyne is planning to use the $150 million investment to expand design and production and reduce the cost of its sensors. Over the last decade, the company developed four generations of hybrid solid-state LiDAR systems incorporating the company’s proprietary software and algorithms that interpret rich data gathered from the environment via highly accurate laser-based sensors to create high resolution 3D digital images used for mapping, localization, object identification and collision avoidance.

Roadmap to Automation

The solutions introduced by the company are capable of producing 300K to 2.2 million data points per second with a range up to 200 meters at centimeter-level accuracy. The Company’s high performance LiDAR technology has been recognized by global automotive OEMs and rideshare customers as a critical element enabling the development of fully autonomous vehicles.

David Hall, founder and CEO, Velodyne LiDAR, said:

LiDAR continues to prove itself as the critical sensor for safe autonomous vehicle operation. This investment will accelerate the cost reduction and scaling of Velodyne’s industry-leading LiDAR sensors, making them widely accessible and enabling mass deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. We are determined to help improve the goal of safety for automotive vehicles as soon as possible, as well as empower the efficiency autonomous systems offer.

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Baidu also shares Velodyne’s vision to promote safety for autonomous vehicles on a global scale, and in particular in Baidu’s home market in China, where Baidu is already testing its fleet of autonomous vehicles. Velodyne expects an exponential increase in LiDAR sensor deployments in autonomous vehicles and ADAS applications over the next several years, driving high revenue growth.

Jing Wang, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous Driving Unit of Baidu, said:

Baidu is developing autonomous vehicles with the intention to increase passenger safety and reduce traffic congestion and pollution in China. Our investment will accelerate our efforts in autonomous driving with what, in our view, are the best LiDAR sensors available today and advance Velodyne’s development of increasingly sophisticated LiDAR sensors.

To fulfill the high demand for Velodyne’s products, the company will continue to expand its resources across engineering, operations and manufacturing. In connection with this minority investment round, the Company plans to expand its board of directors to include two independent industry executives.

Source: Velodyne LiDAR

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