Silicon Valley Lidar Company Velodyne Signs 3 Year Supply Deal with China's Baidu
【Summary】Silicon Valley-based lidar company Velodyne Lidar Inc. was one of the first companies to supply lidar to developers of autonomous vehicles and today the company announced it will supply its lidar to China’s Baidu, a company that’s often referred to as the “Google of China.” Velodyne announced a three-year sales agreement with Baidu for its Alpha Prime lidar sensors for autonomous driving applications.
As automakers, tech companies and startups continue to develop self-driving vehicles, the importance of lidar technology to support perception systems for autonomous vehicles has grown.
Silicon Valley-based lidar company Velodyne Lidar Inc. was one of the first companies to supply lidar to developers of autonomous vehicles and today the company announced it will supply its lidar to China's Baidu, a company that's often referred to as the "Google of China."
Velodyne announced a three-year sales agreement with Baidu for its Alpha Prime lidar sensors for autonomous driving applications. The Alpha Prime sensor can help autonomous vehicles navigate at highway speeds.
Baidu is launching a robo taxi service in China called "Apollo Go" as part of its Apollo open-source autonomous driving platform. The fleet of self-driving vehicles will use the lidar sensors from Velodyne.
Baidu Apollo said it selected the Alpha Prime lidar for its range, resolution and field of view that collectively address the high-performance requirements for Baidu's autonomous vehicles.
"Velodyne greatly values our relationship with Baidu, a strategic business partner and investor, and we are deeply committed to our combined work in the Chinese market," said Wei Weng, Executive Director of Asia, Velodyne Lidar. "They are a trailblazer of intelligent driving technology and deployment, and their accomplishments and influence span global markets. Alpha Prime provides safe, efficient navigation for autonomous vehicles."
The name Lidar is an acronym for "light detecting and ranging." The technology works by bouncing pulses of laser light off of objects millions of times per second and measuring the time its takes for the beams to reflect back to the sensor. By measuring time-of-flight, distance of objects can be measured.
The laser technology also works well in rain, snow and low light conditions, unlike camera-based perception systems that rely on cameras as the primary sensor.
Velodyne's Alpha Prime lidar uses 128 laser channels and can generate millions of data points per second, enabling precise navigation. It utilizes Velodyne's 360-degree surround-view perception technology.
The data points are used to continuously generate a precise, three-dimensional lidar image of a vehicle's surroundings in real time. The lidar sensor can be used to identify other vehicles, buildings, trees, pedestrians, mailboxes, as well as the road ahead.
Outside of autonomous vehicles, the lidar market is rapidly growing for use in advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) designed to reduce accidents and pedestrian deaths. ADAS features are standard on many new vehicles today and are considered to be a precursor to fully-automated driving systems. The 3D vision capabilities of lidar make it an important sensor to help drivers detect roadway hazards and increase safety.
Baidu has been a strategic investor in Velodyne since 2016. U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co is also an investor. The two companies each invested $75 million in Velodyne.
"In fulfilling our intelligent driving mission, Baidu works with innovation leaders like Velodyne to bring a safe, efficient autonomous driving experience to everyone," said Yaoming Shen, Sr. Optical Engineer, Baidu.
San Jose, California-based Velodyne is one of the pioneers of lidar technology. When Google began working on self-driving cars way back in 2009, Velodyne was chosen as its lidar supplier. The project has since spun off as a separate division now known as Waymo.
At the time, Velodyne's lidar units were bulky mechanical devices, which spun to send out laser beams in all directions for complete 360 degree coverage around a vehicle. The units resembled a spinning bucket mounted on the roof of Google's first self-driving vehicles.
However, Velodyne's newest lidar units as well as those of its competitors are much smaller and some even include more advanced solid state lidar technology, with no moving parts. These newer designs are much more reliable and less expensive for use in automotive ADAS and other industries.
As the inventor of lidar 15 years ago, Velodyne has over 300 customers, including major automotive OEMs and leading tech companies developing perception technologies for self-driving vehicles, autonomous shuttles and ADAS, including lidar units for autonomous delivery vehicles designed to carry goods rather than people.
Velodyne has worked with roughly 25 self-driving car programs. Lidar is also being used for robotics, drones, mapping and security systems.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
Amazon-backed EV Startup Rivian Raises $2.6 Billion Led By T. Rowe Price
General Motors, Microsoft & Cruise to Work Together on the Development of Commercial Self-driving Vehicles
Newly Formed Auto Group 'Stellantis' Debuts on European Stock Markets, Shares Rise Nearly 8%
China’s EV Startup Xpeng Unveils the Beta Version of its Advanced Self-Driving Feature Called ‘Navigation Guided Pilot’
Automakers Are Scaling Back Production Due to Growing Semiconductor Shortages
HERE Technologies Creates Detailed 3D Models of 75 City Centers to Help Drivers Better Navigate
General Motors Provides an Update on its Plans for a ‘Zero Emissions’ Electric Future at CES 2021
Intel-owned Mobileye Unveils its New Lidar and Radar Technology for Autonomous Vehicles at CES
- General Motors Changes Course, Sides With California on Fuel Economy Regulations
- Volkswagen Aims to Be the World’s Biggest Producer of Electric Drivetrains, Production Begins in China
- Tesla’s Market Value Tops $500 Billion as the Company Nears its S&P 500 Debut
- Audi to Build Electric Vehicles in China in a New Joint Venture with Automaker FAW Group
- Luxury Electric Automaker Lucid Motors Opens its Studio & Service Center in Southern California
- Daimler’s U.S. Truck Unit Fined $30 Million by the NHTSA for Delaying Recalls
- Autonomous Driving Developer AutoX Expanding its Robotaxi Testing to 4 New Cities in China
- Waymo to Open New Autonomous Testing Facility in Ohio
- iPhone Assembler Foxconn Signs Deal With EV Startup Byton to Build its M-Byte SUV
- Robotaxi Startup AutoX is Now Picking Up Passengers in its Autonomous Vehicles Without Safety Drivers