GM Buys Lidar Startup Strobe to Accelerate Self-Driving Cars

10 October, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • GM Cruise Automation Chevy Bolt

GM says it bought Strobe Inc., of Pasadena, Calif., for a small but undisclosed sum.

"Strobe, Cruise and GM engineers will work side by side along with our optics and fabrication experts at HRL (formerly Hughes Research Labs), the GM skunkworks-like division that invented the world's first laser", Vogt wrote. The company has said it plans to launch the technology in a commercial vehicle network but hasn't disclosed a time frame for deployment.

General Motors (GM +0.4%) strikes a deal to acquire LIDAR tech player Strobe through its Cruise Automation subsidiary for an undisclosed amount. "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%", Vogt said.

Cruise Automation is now testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco that could eventually be produced on a mass market basis. Another startup, Luminar, recently revealed the scale of its own operation, and it's also announced that it's working with Toyota Research Institute along with other select partners to add its capabilities to autonomous test vehicles on the road.

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In autonomous cars, LiDAR uses lasers to scan the environment, creating a 3D rendering that gives the auto a better understanding of the world than it could get using only cameras or radar. As self-driving technology continues to evolve, Lidar's accuracy will play a critical role in its deployment.

Strobe's technology offers accurate measurement of both distance and velocity, Vogt says, and combined with radar, can provide information vital to decision-making for self-driving cars.

GM shares have risen more than 20% in the past month, to $45.26 in afternoon trading Monday. GM doled out more than $1 billion to buy Cruise Automation in March 2016, forming the core of its autonomous vehicle strategy. The vehicle will join Cruise's testing fleets in San Francisco, metropolitan Phoenix and Detroit.

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