Waymo to begin selling its custom 3D lidar sensor

March 08, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Waymo to begin selling its custom 3D lidar sensor
Self-driving technology development company Waymo (Mountain View, CA), a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has announced that it is making its custom 3D perimeter lidar sensors available to companies outside of the self-driving automotive industry.

Specifically, says the company, it is making one of its custom 3D lidar sensors - called Laser Bear Honeycomb - available to select partners.

"Our custom lidars have been instrumental in making Waymo the first company in the world to put fully self-driving cars on public roads," says Simon Verghese, Head of Lidar Team in a blog post making the announcement. "Now, we are making these sensors available to companies outside of self-driving - beginning with robotics, security, agricultural technology, and more - so they can achieve their own technological breakthroughs."

The Laser Bear Honeycomb, says the company, is a best-in-class perimeter sensor, and is the same sensor that's located around the bumper of the company's self-driving vehicles. It has the following features:

  • Wide field of view: Where some 3D lidar have a vertical field of view (FOV) of just 30°, the Honeycomb has a vertical FOV of 95°, plus a 360° horizontal FOV. That means one Honeycomb can do the job of three other 3D sensors stacked on top of one another.
  • Multiple returns per pulse: When the Honeycomb sends out a pulse of light, it doesn’t just see the first object the laser beam touches. Instead, it can see up to four different objects in that laser beams’ line of sight (e.g., it can see both the foliage in front of a tree branch and the tree branch itself). This gives a rich and more detailed view of the environment, and uncovers objects that might otherwise be missed.
  • Minimum range of zero: The Honeycomb has a minimum range of zero, meaning it can see objects immediately in front of the sensor. This enables key capabilities such as near object detection and avoidance.

"Offering this lidar to partners helps spur the growth of applications outside of self-driving cars and also propels our business forward," says Verghese. "We can scale our autonomous technology faster, making each sensor more affordable through

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