Velodyne LiDAR has received a $150 million investment from Ford Motor Company and Chinese search-engine giant Baidu. Velodyne will use the funds to expand the design and production of its automotive LiDAR and lower the cost of each unit.
David Hall, founder and CEO of Velodyne LiDAR explained in an official statement that “this investment will accelerate the cost reduction and scaling of Velodyne’s industry-leading LiDAR sensors, making them widely accessible and enabling mass deployment of fully autonomous vehicles.”
Velodyne says it expects an exponential increase in the use of LiDAR for automotive applications in the next few years. To meet the growing demand for its products, the company will expand its resources across engineering, operations and manufacturing. In connection with the funding, Velodyne LiDAR is adding two independent automotive industry executives to its board of directors.
The $150 million minority round will also be used to aid in the design of new sensors. Jin Wang, senior vice president and general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving unit touched on this point when he explained that “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.”
Ford had previously praised Velodyne LiDAR’s technology while announcing that the company’s Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto would be a key part of its autonomous vehicle strategy for 2016. Just this week, the company announced plans to use a large number of LiDAR sensors to manufacture thousands of autonomous vehicles available for urban car-sharing schemes by 2021.