With American car manufacturer Ford and Chinese search engine giant Baidu working on their self-driving technology, they also know when it’s time they bring in help. And that they did, as Ford and Baidu made a joint investment of US$150 million to LIDAR tech company Velodyne. Using its proprietary software and algorithms in its LIDAR systems, Velodyne analyzes data accumulated from its surroundings through laser-based sensors.
It works like radar, bouncing signals to determine distance (think triangulation). Instead of radio waves, LIDAR utilizes light waves, giving a more detailed version in 3D images for mapping, object identification and avoiding potential collisions. The investment will allow Velodyne to reduce the company’s sensor production costs, and simultaneously scale its production - ultimately enabling the cost reduction of self-driving tech.
Both new investors are primed for its new tech; according to a statement Baidu is already testing self-driving vehicles and plans to form a 100-person team in Silicon Valley. And of course, along with other major carmakers, Ford is developing its autonomous tech and plans to triple the size of its U.S. test fleet.