GM buys LiDAR startup in self-driving car push

October 09, 2017 // By Rich Pell
Automaker General Motors (Detroit, MI) has announced that it is acquiring LiDAR technology startup Strobe, Inc. (Pasadena, CA).

The move is designed to advance GM's self-driving vehicle deployment. As part of the deal, Strobe's engineering team will join GM's self-driving vehicle Cruise Automation unit.

"Strobe's LiDAR technology will significantly improve the cost and capabilities of our vehicles so that we can more quickly accomplish our mission to deploy driverless vehicles at scale,” says Kyle Vogt, Founder and CEO, Cruise Automation.

Strobe, which was founded in 2014, offers a chip-scale LiDAR technology , which Vogt says will reduce the cost of making such laser-based sensors by "99 percent." Compared to camera and radar-based solutions alone, LiDAR is seen as an essential enabling technology for autonomous cars given its ability to "see" in a variety of lighting and weather conditions.

LiDAR sensors have been one of the bottlenecks for deploying cars at scale, says Vogt. "Existing commercially available solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars, are bulky and mechanically complex, and lack the performance needed to unlock self-driving operation at higher speeds and in more challenging weather."

"The successful deployment of self-driving vehicles will be highly dependent on the availability of LIDAR sensors," says Julie Schoenfeld, Founder and CEO, Strobe, Inc. "Strobe’s deep engineering talent and technology backed by numerous patents will play a significant role in helping GM and Cruise bring these vehicles to market sooner than many think."

Cruise Automation recently unveiled what it claims is the world’s first mass-producible car designed with the redundancy and safety requirements necessary to operate without a driver. Last week, Vogt indicated that GM was more prepared to deploy self-driving cars at scale rapidly because it has been testing them in complex urban environments like San Francicso.

Cruise Automation

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