Waymo Starts to Sell LiDAR Senosrs

Waymo is a leading company in autonomous cars. They develop its own hardware and software in house. They have highly integrated sensors developed by themselves, even like LiDAR. LiDAR is a core sensor which is regarded as an indispensable part in high-level autonomous driving.

Tekedra Mawakana, Waymo chief external officer, said Waymo starts selling sensors to none-autonomous space during the Bloomberg interview on March 6. Except automotive, LiDAR is a promising component in drone, mapping, security, and industrial application. [1]

LiDAR market is billion dollar size. In 2017, the global LiDAR market was nearly $1.69 billion and expected to reach $4.5 by 2023.[2] A few percents are used in non-automotive applications. Most of the LiDAR is for self-driving cars. LiDAR is provided by Velodyne, Quanergy and some other companies. And It has attracted more player in this area.

Waymo sensor system, yellow parts except the top 360 degree LiDAR are short-range LiDAR sensors.

Waymo separated from Google as self-driving car unit in 2016. It’s in the top position of driverless vehicles competition. However,  Waymo still doesn’t generate revenue. It has great pressure to promote the commercialization of its autonomous car. Sensor hardware system seizes a big part in cost. Waymo has the motivation to decrease its in-house sensor cost by increasing the production volume.

Laser Bear Honeycomb via Waymo

Waymo tried to sell its short-range sensor known as the Laser Bear Honeycomb. Waymo autonomous vehicles use 4 Honecombs, one on the front, two around the front pillar, and one in the back.[3] Waymo didn’t release its price. Velodyne released a close-range LiDAR, VelaDome[4], in CES 2019. Its price is about $4,000 per device.

Although Waymo only sells its LiDAR sensors to companies outside of self-driving cars. It would possibly be leaked to its competitors. As part of its most valuable knowledge, it’s a risky choice. However, it’s more important for Waymo making each sensor more affordable through the production scale.

[1] Waymo Starts Selling Sensors to Lower Cost of Self-Driving Cars
[2] LiDAR Market – Segmented by Component (GPS, Laser Scanners, Inertial Measurement Units), Product (Aerial LiDAR, Ground-based LiDAR), End-user Industry, and Geography – Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2019 – 2024)
[3] Waymo Safety Report Page 14
[4] Velodyne Lidar to Present Breakthrough Technology for Autonomy and Driver Assistance at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019

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