Ford's Argo AI acquires LiDAR maker

October 31, 2017 //By Rich Pell
Ford's Argo AI acquires LiDAR maker
Ford Motor Company's driverless car subsidiary Argo AI (Pittsburgh, PA) has acquired Princeton Lightwave (Cranbury, NJ), a supplier of Geiger-mode LiDAR technology for autonomous cars.

Founded in 2000 as a spin-off from Sarnoff Corp. - an R&D company that specialized in vision, video, and semiconductor technology - Princeton Lightwave is said to be one of the oldest makers of LiDAR sensing devices. Such technology - which uses laser sensors to help autonomous cars "see" objects and obstacles - has seen increasing demand with the rush to develop autonomous vehicles.

"We can’t talk about a future of self-driving cars without mentioning LiDAR technology," says Bryan Salesky, CEO, Argo AI in a related blog post. "And we won’t be able to build that future without it. These sensors are crucial to creating a three-dimensional view of the world that helps autonomous vehicles find where they are on the road and detect other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists."

According to Salesky, Argo is looking to develop affordable LiDAR sensors with the help of Princeton's technology. In addition, he says, Princeton's technology "complements and expands the capability" of existing LiDAR sensors available to the automotive industry today, and will help Argo "extend the range and resolution needed to achieve self-driving capability in challenging urban environments."

Princeton's Geiger-mode sensing technology - which has previously been used in aerial 3D mapping - uses class 1 eye-safe devices that detect and process photons digitally and in real-time. According to the company, its GeigerCruizer imaging system maps surroundings "faster and further" than other LiDAR systems.

Ford has previously invested in LiDAR startup Velodyne (San Jose, CA). The automaker joined China's Baidu in a $150 million investment in the leading LiDAR maker to help it commercialize its sensors.

The terms of the more recent Princeton Lightwave deal were not disclosed.

Related articles:
Ford, Baidu invest in Velodyne LiDAR
Ford to invest $1B in AI startup
GM buys LiDAR startup in self-driving car push
Velodyne aims to make one million LiDAR sensors a year by 2018
Another move in the Lidar technology market

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