Ford and Baidu Announce $150 Million Joint Investment in Velodyne
Ford and Baidu have announced the investment of $150 million USD in Silicon Valley-based LiDAR sensor manufacturer Velodyne. The investment will support the production and development of LIDAR technology and products, which are used by Ford’s autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid test fleet vehicles for the purposes of guiding self-driving cars, as well as helping to make LiDAR more cost-effective for potential application in mass-produced vehicles.
“We want the cost to be low enough to be used for all cars. We envision a safer world for the millions of automotive drivers across the globe,” said Marta Hall, Velodyne President of Business Development.
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Velodyne’s LiDAR products have been honed across four generations of systems spanning a decade. The systems interpret data that is gathered by sensors to create fully-realized 3D digital images that can be used to create maps for self-driving cars. According to Velodyne, its latest LiDAR solutions are able to produce between 300,000 and 2.2 million data points per second with a range of up to 200 meters and accuracy down to the centimeter.
“LiDAR continues to prove itself as the critical sensor for safe autonomous vehicle operation,” said David Hall, founder and CEO, Velodyne LiDAR. “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.”
Earlier this year, Ford’s Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle proved capable of driving on its own and in total darkness at the Ford Arizona Proving Ground, and it was shown to be able to drive safely in snowy conditions. Ford also recently announced that it would have an autonomous vehicle available to the public by 2021.
“From the very beginning of our autonomous vehicle program, we saw LiDAR as key enabler due to its sensing capabilities and how it complements radar and cameras,” said Raj Nair, Ford Executive Vice President, Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “Ford has a long-standing relationship with Velodyne and our investment is a clear sign of our commitment to making autonomous vehicles available for consumers around the world.”
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