Just last year, Cruise Automation was acquired by General Motors, and today, it is the self-driving startup that is gobbling up companies on its own. General Motors is stepping their game up once more. To make things easier for them when it comes to the development of autonomous cars, they decided to acquire California-based Strobe, Inc. Not a lot of you may have heard of this company, but Strobe specializes in LiDAR technology, and that is a huge step forward for companies who are into autonomous systems for automobiles. After the acquisition, Strobe engineers will become part of the automaker’s Cruise Automation team.
Julie Schoenfeld, Founder and CEO of Strobe, Inc., said in a statement that the successful deployment of self-driving vehicles will have to depend on the availability of LiDAR sensors. Furthermore, GM and Cruise will benefit from Strobe’s deep engineering talent and technology backed by a number of patents. And hopefully, the automaker brings these autonomous vehicles sooner than we would think.
LiDAR is different from radar systems because the former uses laser pulses to “see” an area, whereas the latter relies on radar systems to do the same thing. And the LiDAR, as we know, is much more detailed as it creates a better picture of its surroundings, which translates to a more accurate processing of information. In other words, the LiDAR system can see a more realistic picture of what’s around it - from cars, pedestrians, and the road. Therefore, the LiDAR systems will play a pivotal role in the current and future development of autonomous cars. However, radars and LiDARs can complement each other to create a more robust and fault-tolerant sensing suite, operating in a wide range of environmental and lighting conditions.
Just last month, we saw from the Cruise Automation team what they refer to as the world’s first autonomous car. It comes with the necessary safety and redundancy systems that are needed for the vehicle to operate even without a human driver. This may not be ground-breaking, but GM says that the car will be mass produced. So hopefully, in the near future, we will be living in a world with driverless cars on the road.
Kyle Vogt, Founder and CEO of Cruise Automation, said that with both companies working together, costs and capabilities of its vehicles will be improved so that automakers can soon accomplish their mission to deploy driverless vehicles. By successfully reducing the LiDAR array down to a single chip, production costs are reduced to nearly 100 percent. This would help speed up the manufacturing and deployment of self-driving cars to suburban and rural areas where ride sharing is not as common.
GM also announced last week that they plan to release a fleet of new electric vehicles by 2023.