Ford investing US$75 million in autonomous vehicle sensor company
California-based Velodyne makes laser sensors used in driver assist systems.
The Ford Motor Company is teaming up with Chinese search engine company Baidu to invest in Velodyne, a company that makes laser sensors that help guide self-driving cars.
Ford and Baidu will each invest US$75 million in Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Velodyne, which says it will use the US$150 million investment to expand design and production and reduce the cost of its sensors. The laser sensors are called Lidar, which stands for light, detection and ranging. They can also be used in conventional vehicles as part of driver assist systems such as automatic emergency braking.
Velodyne says that lower costs will allow the sensors to be used in all vehicles to make roads safer.
In a statement, Ford called Velodyne’s technology “a key enabler of self-driving vehicles”. Baidu is testing autonomous vehicles in China, where it hopes to help reduce road congestion.
“Autonomous vehicles could have just as much significant impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said. Fields also said the US$75 million investment in Velodyne will help the automaker transition to a mobility company. He also noted that Ford plans to expand its presence in Silicon Valley. Further details are expected to be released shortly.