GM's Cruise buys LIDAR company to drastically cut self-driving costs

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Cruise Automation, the company GM acquired a little over a year ago, has announced it's made a purchase of its own: Strobe, which specializes in shrinking LIDAR arrays down to a single chip.

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.

Kyle Vogt, chief executive of Cruise, said Strobe is developing a lidar system that will be much smaller and cost a tiny fraction of the bulky lidar sensors that the company and others now use on their test cars.

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GM plans to merge Strobe with its Cruise Automation unit, which is part of the automaker's Autonomous Vehicle Development Team.

Julie Schoenfeld, head of Strobe, is also optimistic that the company's technology can help GM speed up its deployment of autonomous cars.

Long story short: GM is one step closer to not just mass-producing a self-driving auto, but also delivering it at a competitive price.

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"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. "When used together, cameras, LIDARs, and RADARs can complement each other to create a robust and fault-tolerant sensing suite that operates in a wide range of environmental and lighting conditions." said Vogt in a blog post on Medium. GM and its US rival Ford Motor Co. have both publicly stated that they aim to have fully self-driving cars on sale by 2021.

In autonomous cars, LiDAR uses lasers to scan the environment, creating a 3D rendering that gives the vehicle a better understanding of the world than it could get using only cameras or radar. Since then, GM has ramped up production of its electric vehicle line with improved autonomous features. "I don't think so". The acquisition gives GM exclusive access - and brings GM one step closer to mass-producing self-driving cars.

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