Velodyne targets sub-R8000 price point for self-driving car sensor

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Velarray H800
Velarray H800

• Velodyne is one of several companies in competition to supply carmakers with lidar, an important sensor for self-driving cars. 
• Lidar is sensor that generates a 3D map of the road ahead. • The company announced it would introduce a new lidar device targeted at less than the equivalent of R8000. 

Velodyne Lidar Inc said on Friday (13 Nov) it would introduce a new lidar unit, a key sensor in self-driving cars, with a target price point of less than $500 and no moving parts.

Velodyne became a public company in September and is one of the several companies vying to supply carmakers with lidar, a sensor that generates a three-dimensional map of the road ahead. Velodyne was an early entrant into the market and its units have powered research operations for many carmakers.

Some of those early research units were bulky, contained many moving parts and cost well above $10 000. For mass production in passenger vehicles, automakers and their major suppliers seek units that are sleek enough to fit into attractive car designs and cost well below $1000.

An increasing number of devices, such as Apple's new iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro models, include lidar sensors that help with applications such as augmented reality, in which digital content is overlaid on the real world.

Velodyne on Friday floated the concept of Velarray H800, which could be "available at high-volume production levels with a target price of less than $500", but did not say when the units would go on sale.

The autonomous vehicle technology company said the unit will have no moving parts - known as "solid state" in the industry - and will be small enough to fit behind the windshield of a car. The company said the sensor can be used for self-driving vehicles or existing driver-assistance features such as emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance.

Velodyne is among a trio of lidar technology developers coming to public markets. Silicon Valley firm Aeva Inc aims to go public by merging with blank-check acquisition company InterPrivate Acquisition Corp, and Luminar Technologies Inc is working through a similar transaction with Gores Metropoulos Inc.

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