Velodyne, established in 1984 to produce high-end audio systems, is now on the lead of the autonomous automobile frontier with crucial sponsorship from Ford and Baidu.
The company just got $150 million from Ford and Baidu to continue development and production of Lidar, or the 3D light-powered radar that assists self-driving automobiles see where they are going.
Having a presence on three continents, Velodyne is now frequently discussed in research reports that mention leading companies in the specific niche field of lidar.
Lidar gives off short pulses of laser light so that software in the self-driving car can develop a real-time, high-definition 3D image of exactly what’s around it.
In addition to cars, the systems also have growing capacity for farming devices, mining cars and military automobiles.
Ford stated it decided to buy Velodyne after dealing with the company for many years. Ford’s investment was announced along with investments and acquisitions of three other companies previously this month. Ford also revealed its intent that very same day to create a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Ford CEO Mark Fields stated those companies, together with the car manufacturer’s new staff members in Silicon Valley, have an opportunity to work on innovation that has the capacity of “changing the world”.
The company started offering Lidar systems about a decade ago but is growing faster now than ever.
The company currently provides Lidar systems to about 25 car manufacturers and technology companies and has actually added 150 employees during the last year.
Velodyne is also widely known in China, which helps explain Baidu’s decision to invest $75 million in the business. With a market capitalization of $66 billion, Baidu is China’s answer to Google. Like Google, Baidu has its own self-governing automobile program and has already begun testing driverless automobiles on public roads in China.