Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

GM Buys LiDAR Tech Company Strobe

GM Buys LiDAR Tech Company Strobe

Cruise says Strobe's LIDAR sensor systems are implemented on a single chip.

"The successful deployment of self-driving vehicles will be highly dependent on the availability of LIDAR sensors", said Julie Schoenfeld, founder and CEO, Strobe.

Lidar uses a pulsed laser sensor to measure the distance between objects and is a crucial component of autonomous vehicles' navigation systems.

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General Motors is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to being a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, announcing today it was acquiring Lidar technology company Strobe Inc. Terms of the Strobe acquisition were not disclosed. The commercialized version, he said, should be even more compact.

In a Medium blog post, Cruise Automation chief Kyle Vogt explained the benefits of partnering with Strobe. "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".

The new LIDAR system can apparently deal with sun reflecting off rainy streets and help differentiate between someone clad in black jaywalking at night.

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The particularly attractive thing about Strobe, according to Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt, is that it has successfully reduced the LIDAR array down to a single chip, which will help reduce production costs by almost 100 percent. But GM didn't say when the technology would be ready to carry passengers.

Cruise, the self-driving startup acquired by General Motors previous year, is now gobbling up companies of its own.

Ray Wert, GM's head of advanced technology communication, said the new fleet of electric vehicles will feature a variety of automotive body styles but will focus on the heart of the current market: "crossovers and SUVs".

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"We understand that we could play a huge role in leading the way there", Wert said. "But we're not going to be standing on the sidelines".

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