Velodyne Lidar Inc., one of the leading suppliers of sensing systems for the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry, has announced an agreement with Nikon Corporation, under which one of the optics and imaging products giant’s subsidiaries will mass-manufacture lidar sensors.
Velodyne’s founder and CEO, David Hall, invented real-time surround-view lidar systems in 2005, revolutionizing perception and autonomy for automotive, new mobility, mapping, robotics, and security. Used by the majority of AVs currently being developed worldwide, the company’s high-performance product line features a broad range of sensing and mapping solutions, including: the cost-effective Puck; the versatile Ultra Puck; the Alpha Puck sensor that is ideal for SAE Level 4-5 autonomy; the ultra-wide-angle VelaDome; the advanced driver assistance systems-optimized (ADAS) Velarray; and the groundbreaking Vella software for driver assistance.
Under the new agreement, Nikon subsidiary, Sendai Nikon Corporation, will manufacture lidar sensors for Velodyne with plans to start mass production in the second half of 2019. The partnership cements Velodyne’s manufacturing plan and expands its lead in the global lidar sensor market. With more than 250 customers globally, the company is currently the leading supplier of lidar sensors to the automotive industry. Beyond AVs and ADAS, Velodyne will make use of Nikon’s mass-manufacturing prowess as lidar sales expand within other emerging markets. Accelerated by its partnership with Nikon, Velodyne’s low-cost lidar solutions will benefit a range of business segments, including robotics, security, mapping, agriculture, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Nikon invested US$25m in Velodyne last year and now aims to combine its optical and precision imaging technologies with Velodyne’s lidar sensor technology. Since the investment, both companies have been investigating a business alliance that includes collaboration in technology development and manufacturing. This new manufacturing agreement represents the initial phase of the Velodyne/Nikon business alliance. The companies will continue to investigate further areas of a wide-ranging and multifaceted business alliance. Seen as a vital component in most AVs, the manufacture of lidar units at scale is likely to reduce costs for self-driving technology developers worldwide.
“Mass production of our high-performance lidar sensors is key to advancing our immediate plans to expand sales in North America, Europe, and Asia,” said Marta Hall, president and CBDO of Velodyne Lidar. “With this partnership, we can affirm our leadership role in designing, producing and selling lidar for worldwide implementation. For years, we have been perfecting lidar technology to produce thousands of lidar units for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems. It is our goal to produce lidar in the millions of units with manufacturing partners such as Nikon.”
Hall added, “Working with Nikon, an expert in precision manufacturing, is a major step toward lowering the cost of our lidar products. Nikon is notable for expertly mass-producing cameras while retaining high standards of performance and uncompromising quality. Together, Velodyne and Nikon will apply the same attention to detail and quality to the mass production of lidar. Lidar sensors will retain the highest standards, while at the same time achieving a price that will be more affordable for customers around the world.”