The cost of on-board electronics will be a key element in the adoption speed of the autonomous car and one of the key points remains that of the very many sensors needed for the algorithms that will drive the car in the middle of the traffic. In this respect, however, the LiDAR (laser detection and ranging) with a cost of several thousand dollars per unit remains a brake on the appearance of autonomous cars at a cost compatible with what motorists are willing to put in a car. Velodyne, one of the main manufacturers of LiDAR has just announced that it will be able to halve the price of its VLP-16, a “small” LiDAR on board. One of the obstacles to the marketing of autonomous cars has just been overcome.
Industrialization of autonomous car components is underway
In 2016, Baidu and Ford were injecting $150 million into the U. S. -based Velodyne, a colossal amount of money that underscores the importance this OEM will take in the future. The role of this sensor is crucial in an autonomous car because it transforms the environment around the car into a 3D scene that can be understood by algorithms.
In a short press release, David Hall, its founder, explains that the growing demand for these LiDARs and thus the growing production capacity, Velodyne can halve the volume prices of its VLP-16, an ultra-compact entry-level model that can be integrated into the “classic” design of a car without having to mount a sensor battery on the roof. he says that the “Megafactory” created by Velodyne in San José employs thousands of people and that the number of employees has just been doubled to meet the needs of car manufacturers.
This VLP-16 is not Velodyne’s flagship model, the Ultra Puck VLP-32C and the all-new VLS-128, but we’re still in the early stages of history.
Source : “Velodyne Slashes the Price in Half of Its Most Popular LiDAR Sensor”, Velodyne press release, 1st of january 2018