Autonomous-Car Sensor Maker Velodyne Receives $150 Million Investment

The $150 million investment will allow Velodyne to expand development and drive down cost LiDAR sensors

Ford Motor Co. and Chinese web-service provider Baidu Inc. are leading a $150 million investment in laser-sensor maker Velodyne Inc., the latest in a series of bets being placed by car makers and tech companies to advance autonomous-driving technology.

The investment will allow the California-based Velodyne to expand design and manufacturing of lower-cost LiDAR sensors, which are key to helping self-driving cars gather data from the surrounding environment.

Velodyne aims to lower the cost of the sensors to between $300 to $500 per unit, inexpensive enough to offer in mass-market cars.

Like other major auto makers, Ford is working to speed the development of self-driving vehicles by investing in tech firms with enabling technology. In addition to this investment, the company plans to double the head count at its Silicon Valley office to 260 by the end of 2017, Ford said Tuesday.

The move follows General Motors Co. $1 billion acquisition of autonomous-driving firm Cruise Automation earlier this year and other moves by car companies like Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG to expand their software, mapping and artificial intelligence expertise. – article published on WSJ

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