Velodyne launches flagship lidar sensor for AV industry


The generally acknowledged world leader in 3D vision systems for autonomous vehicles (AVs), Velodyne LiDAR, has unveiled its VLS-128 lidar sensor, which is over 10 times more powerful *meaning what? than, but a third the size and weight of, the sensor it is replacing – the industry-standard HDL-64.

Specifically developed for the rapidly expanding AV market, and featuring an industry-leading 128 laser channels, the VLS-128 is a major step forward in lidar vision systems, featuring the highest resolution, longest range, and widest surround field-of-view of any lidar system currently available. Velodyne’s VLS-128 succeeds the HDL-64, still considered to be the industry benchmark for high-resolution localization and environmental perception, with the spinning units installed on thousands of vehicles around the world, providing the core technology for dozens of AV programs in over 10 countries. The company’s new flagship model has 10 times higher resolving power than the HDL-64, allowing it to see objects more clearly, while its highly accurate object identification and detection system can provide superior collision avoidance in a moving car, especially at highway speeds.

Velodyne has performed customer demonstrations of the VLS-128 and plans to produce it in scale at the company’s new Megafactory *cap?* in California. Velodyne has moved the mechanics inside the housing of the non-spinning VLS-128 unit to create a smaller, less obtrusive sensor. The VLS-128 provides three major advances for autonomous driving:

• The VLS-128’s high-resolution data can be used directly for object detection without additional sensor fusion, which improves the safety and redundancy of the AV’s compute function and reduces overall computing complexity;

• With its long range and high-resolution data, the VLS-128 allows AVs to function equally as well in highway scenarios and low-speed urban environments, and is designed to solve all ‘corner cases’ needed for full autonomy on highways;

• Based on mass-produced semiconductor technologies, the VLS-128 is designed for automated assembly using a proprietary laser alignment and manufacturing system to meet lidar’s growing global demand.

“With this product we are redefining the limits of lidar and we will be able to see things no one has ever been able to see with this technology,” said David Hall, Velodyne’s founder and CEO. “We have demonstrated it to customers and they can’t wait to get their hands on them. We will be shipping the VLS-128 by the end of 2017.”

Mike Jellen, Velodyne’s president, added, “The VLS-128 is the best lidar sensor on the planet. The autonomous space has been waiting for this breakthrough.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).