Being the first developing a new technology means to overcome quite some obstacles. But those activities benefit everyone else. When Google – today Waymo – began development on self-driving cars, the only vendor of LiDARs was San Jose based Velodyne. Waymo decided to work on their own sensor technology, which promptly led a very public lawsuit with Uber.
Waymo now announced that it starts offering their its LiDAR technology to others. The company, which is valuated at a staggering 225 billion dollars, has added its LiDAR-system Laser Bear in its catalogue. With a vertical field of view of 95 degrees and a horizontal field of view of 360 degrees, the sensor can also see objects as close as 0 meters. The website does not tell how far the LiDAR can see. According to Waymo’s website the technology was used on Waymo vehicles in 2 million hours of operation under a variety of climatic conditions.
Currently each Waymo is equipped with 4 Laser Bear LiDARs, a fifth unidentified LiDAR is in the dark dome on the roof. As Waymo’s CTO reported recently, mass production of the sensors has started. With planned 82,000 Waymo vehicles to hit the roads in the next years, the company needs 382,000 Laser Bear LiDARs. Now others can also get their hands on that technology. The use cases are not just limited to autonomous system, but can also be used for monitoring traffic of people in buildings.
Waymo’s website does not reveal how much a Leaser Bear costs. Here is a compilation of Waymo vehicles in the wild with the LiDAR very well visible.
This article was also published in German.