Ford & Baidu Invest Into Velodyne LiDAR

One of the top companies out there currently in the field of Light, Detection, and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, Velodyne LiDAR, has received $150 million in new investment funding from Ford Motor Company and the Chinese tech giant Baidu.

The new investment funding will reportedly be used by Velodyne for a rapid expansion of its design and production capabilities — paving the way for the sale of cost-effective automotive LiDAR sensors, which will be in demand as the autonomous vehicle market expands greatly over coming decades.

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The placement agent for the co-investment was Morgan Stanley.

“LiDAR continues to prove itself as the critical sensor for safe autonomous vehicle operation,” stated David Hall, the founder and CEO of 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.”

press release about the deal provides some background on Velodyne: “Over the last decade, Velodyne developed 4 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. Velodyne’s LiDAR solutions 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.”

The Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technical Officer at Ford, Raj Nair, commented as well: “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. 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.”

An exec from Baidu was quoted as saying something along the same lines, nothing that the firm considered Velodyne’s LiDAR sensors are the best on the market currently, and that the investment would help advance the technology.

2 thoughts on “Ford & Baidu Invest Into Velodyne LiDAR

  1. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lidar situation plays out. You’ve got all the legacy car manufacturers saying lidar will be critical. On the other hand you’ve got Tesla saying “meh, not really needed at all”.
    It’s also possible that Tesla’s waiting until they can either design their own lidar package, or they’re waiting for the commercially available packages to hit some critical milestone.

    1. Yeah, I’m curious. Not an area I know a lot about, but seem to be learning more every day. Curious what the “end picture” looks like … you know, before teleportation.

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