Economy

GM buys Lidar startup Strobe to accelerate its self-driving vehicle development

GM buys Lidar startup Strobe to accelerate its self-driving vehicle development

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cruise's fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolts is now testing on the crowded streets of San Francisco, a move that GM believes will help it bring autonomous cars to market faster.

The particularly attractive thing about Strobe, according to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, is that it has successfully reduced the LIDAR array down to a single chip, which will help reduce production costs by almost 100 percent.

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. "Strobe's new chip-scale LIDAR technology will significantly enhance the capabilities of our self-driving cars".

"You can see even a sensor like that is much easier to integrate into a vehicle body", he said, during a call with reporters.

Tesla has balked at the cost of Lidar and is using cameras and sensors instead.

Vogt asserts that radar can operate under more challenging weather conditions, however it lacks the precision needed when making critical maneuvers at speed.

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LIDAR on the other hand uses laser or concentrated light to map a high resolution 3D view of a the world, which arguably provides a higher precision view of a self-driving car's surroundings.

Strobe, based in Pasadena, California, will be taken under the wing of GM's Cruise Automation team to develop next-generation Lidar for the company's self-driving vehicles.

As the race to produce a fully autonomous vehicle continues to heat up between Tesla, GM, Uber, and Google, and hardware prices decline, it's only a matter of time before a tried and true combination of hardware will become the de-facto self-driving hardware suite.

"The successful deployment of self-driving vehicles will be highly dependent on the availability of Lidar sensors", said Julie Schoenfeld, founder and CEO, Strobe, Inc.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, GM shares were up 26 cents at $45.20.