Velodyne Lidar receives substantial investments from Ford and Baidu


The company at the forefront of lidar technology design has received substantial investment from the USA and China that will allow it to accelerate the development of systems that are critical to autonomous vehicles.

Velodyne LiDAR Inc., the recognized global leader in lidar technology, has announced the completion of a combined US$150m investment from co-investors the Ford Motor Company and China’s leading search engine company Baidu Inc. The investment will allow Velodyne to rapidly expand the design and production of high performance, cost effective automotive lidar sensors, accelerating mass adoption of autonomous vehicle and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) applications.

Over the last decade, Velodyne has developed four generations of hybrid solid-state lidar systems, incorporating the company’s proprietary software and algorithms that interpret rich data gathered from the environment via highly accurate laser-based sensors to create high resolution 3D digital images used for mapping, localization, object identification and collision avoidance. Velodyne LiDAR’s systems are capable of producing 300,000 to 2,200,0000 data points per second, with a range up to 656ft (200m) at centimeter-level accuracy. The company’s high performance lidar technology has been recognized by global automotive OEMs and rideshare customers as a critical element enabling the development of fully autonomous vehicles.

Velodyne expects an exponential increase in lidar sensor deployments in autonomous vehicles and ADAS applications over the next few years, driving high revenue growth. To fulfill the high demand for its products, the company will continue to expand its resources across engineering, operations and manufacturing. In connection with this minority investment round, the company plans to expand its board of directors to include two independent industry executives. Velodyne remains focused on strengthening its leadership in lidar technology development and product commercialization, working with top automotive OEM and rideshare partners to improve global transportation safety and efficiency.

“Lidar continues to prove itself as the critical sensor for safe autonomous vehicle operation,” said David Hall, founder and CEO of Velodyne. “This investment will accelerate the cost reduction and scaling of our industry-leading lidar sensors, making them widely accessible, and enabling mass deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. We are determined to help improve the goal of safety for automotive vehicles as soon as possible, as well as empower the efficiency autonomous systems offer.”

“From the very beginning of our autonomous vehicle program, we saw lidar as a key enabler due to its sensing capabilities and how it complements radar and cameras,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technical officer. “We have a long-standing relationship with Velodyne, and our investment is a clear sign of our commitment to making autonomous vehicles available for consumers around the world.”

Jing Wang, SVP of Baidu’s autonomous driving unit, commented, “We are developing autonomous vehicles with the goal of increasing passenger safety and reducing traffic congestion and pollution in China. Our investment will accelerate our efforts in autonomous driving with what, in our view, are the best lidar sensors available today, and advance Velodyne’s development of increasingly sophisticated lidar sensors.”

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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).