Ford Invests $150 Million In Velodyne

Driverless cars are a concept that many have been dreaming about for years. However, we are now in an age of technology where driverless car features are not only possible, but actually exist and are starting to gain steam with big time auto manufacturers like Ford and GM. In addition to some driverless features, companies like Ford are wanting to develop a completely autonomous car. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford is aiming to have such a car available by the year 2021.

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In an effort to work towards their goal of having a completely driverless car by 2021, Ford, along with web services company Baidu, recently invested $150 million in Velodyne. Velodyne is a Morgan Hill, California based company that was founded in 1984 which produces high-end audio systems, but it is now on the forefront of the driverless vehicle frontier. Velodyne received $150 million from Ford and Baidu to continue development and production of Lidar, which is the 3-D light-powered radar that helps self-driving cars see where they are going.

Mike Jellen, the company's president and COO, said the investment will help expand development and manufacturing operations and also speed the advancement of Lidar technology. "We ship Lidar today, we have thousands of them in the field, but what automakers are really looking for are longer-range sensors and higher-resolution sensors at a lower cost," Jellen said.

Until recently, Velodyne's Lidar systems cost about $8,000 — too high to be cost effective for an automaker trying to sell to individual customers. Later this year, Velodyne will begin producing a system that could cost as little as $500 for each unit, if a high enough volume is ordered. This is good news for Ford, because it means that their goal of trying to bring a completely driver-less car to market by 2021 is starting to look like a goal that can be reached. 

One concern for customers and manufacturers of driverless cars is the issue of how safe the technology of the autonomous car is, and whether or not these cars will be involved in more or less crashes than a normal automobile. Until autonomous cars become mainstream however, we won't know exactly how safe they are. In the meanwhile, drivers should be careful while operating human controlled vehicles on the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Car accidents can cause a lot of stress which our attorneys hope to alleviate by working hard to help you. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.