In a bid to further technology for autonomous vehicles, US automaker Ford and Chinese internet company Baidu have invested a combined 150 million dollars in a California-based supplier, the company said Tuesday.
The investment will allow the company, Velodyne, to expand the design and production of sensors used in cars that drive themselves, the company said in a news release. The company is a leading maker of the sensors, which use lasers to sense the area around a vehicle.
The technology Velodyne produces is known as LiDAR, short for light, detection and ranging. Ford had already announced plans to use Velodyne's latest version of LiDAR technology, and other companies that are actively working on developing autonomous cars, including Google, have embraced the technology. Baidu also is working on an autonomous vehicle.
Velodyne's LiDAR systems interpret data points gathered from the environment by highly accurate laser-based sensors at a rate of 300,000 to 2.2 million per second. The data are used to create 3D digital images used for mapping, object identification and collision avoidance, the company said.
The rotating LiDAR devices, which sit on the roof of autonomous cars, have received more attention since a fatal accident involving an electric car made by Tesla whose driver relied on the car's driving assistant, which used a different system of sensors. A number of experts said after the accident that LiDAR systems were a key element in the development of autonomous vehicles.