Sunday, 27 May, 2018

GM Buys LiDAR Tech Company Strobe

Above General Motors Image Credit Shutterstock Above General Motors Image Credit Shutterstock
Frank Williams | 09 October, 2017, 23:23

LIDAR is one of the major sensor technologies used in autonomous, or self-driving vehicles, and there is fierce competition between large automakers to bring the cars to market first.

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.

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. Strobe's engineers will work with Cruise Automation, the San Francisco autonomous-vehicle developer that GM acquired in early 2016, the company said.

Sensors are a critical enabler for deploying self-driving cars at scale, and LIDARs (sensors that use laser light to measure the distance to objects) are now the bottleneck.

Simply put, Strobe's system could help GM bring self-driving cars to market more quickly, at lower prices.

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Reports that Amazon is thinking about taking on the prescription drug industry have sent shares of CVS and Walgreens off a cliff. Since May 15, 2017, it had 1 buying transaction, and 1 sale for $307,000 activity. $46,235 worth of AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

To tackle these problems we've acquired Strobe, a company that has quietly been building the leading next-generation LIDAR sensors.

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. But perhaps more importantly, by collapsing the entire sensor down to a single chip, we'll reduce the cost of each LIDAR on our self-driving cars by 99%.

"Radars typically also provide distance and velocity information and operate under more challenging weather conditions, but they lack the angular resolution needed to make certain critical maneuvers at speed", he added.

What does it mean for GM investors?

Here's a key bit of background: There are quite a few small companies "working on" lidar systems for self-driving cars, but right now, most self-driving test efforts rely on lidar sensors from a company called Velodyne. Vogt said last month that this version is "mass-producible".

"GM's AV's will be ready for commercial deployment, without human drivers, much sooner than widely expected and potentially years ahead of competitors", Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache wrote in a September research note. GM's purchase of Strobe can be seen as just that.

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