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09 October 2017, 11:22 | Justin Tyler
Above General Motors Image Credit Shutterstock
No. 1 USA automaker General Motors Co. said on Monday it would buy Strobe Inc, which uses LIDAR technology to help self-driving cars identify objects at a distance, to speed up development of autonomous vehicles and slash sensor costs.
Velodyne is now the industry leader in terms of LiDAR employed in self-driving vehicle technology, but many are trying to improve the cost, form factor and reliability of LiDAR parts. The company has said it plans to launch the technology in a commercial vehicle network but hasn't disclosed a time frame for deployment. (For starters, we don't know the purchase price.) We do know that the deal is done, not pending, and that Strobe's engineering team will join GM's San-Francisco-based self-driving subsidiary, Cruise Automation.
While GM continues to charge forward with implementing LIDAR technology into its self-driving program, the company also complements its technology with radar sensors to create a fault-tolerant sensing suite. If GM can put Strobe's technology into mass production, it won't need to rely on Velodyne - and it might be able to leapfrog the technology available to most of its rivals.
Strobe's new microchip LIDAR system would significantly enhance the capabilities of the self-driving cars GM was developing, Vogt said in a blog post and on a conference call with reporters.
Existing commercially available solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars, are bulky and mechanically complex, and lack the performance needed to unlock self-driving operation at higher speeds and in more challenging weather. GM's Director of autonomous vehicle integration has recently spoken up against Musk's narrative that Tesla Autopilot will be fully autonomous and capable of piloting a auto from California to NY on its own by the end of the year. That's why it's an important part of making self-driving cars a reality. "I don't think so".
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