The Strategist

Ford, Baidu invested in unmanned vehicles

08/17/2016 - 16:07

The US carmaker Ford in cooperation with the largest Chinese Internet search engine Baidu invested $ 150 million in development of unmanned vehicles systems. The investment will be spent on sensors and radar systems to be created by American company Velodyne LiDAR Inc.

Ford and Baidu’s investments were announced by Velodyne LiDAR Inc. itself. The company said the investment "will accelerate mass adoption of autonomous vehicles". "We want the cost of such technologies for automakers to be as low as possible. That way we can accelerate introduction of safer driving around the world ", - said Martha Hall, President of Velodyne Inc. Her company is already well known in the market of autonomous driving technologies: it produces high-precision radars, lasers and sensors. Velodyne Inc. assures that combination of these technologies allows giving a highly accurate three-dimensional picture of the situation within a radius of 200 m.

"We have seen great potential in the company’s development from the beginning of our work on an autonomous transport program, - said Executive Vice President of Ford Motor Raj Nair. - We have quite a long relationship, so once again this investment confirms our interest in development of the autonomous transport industry".  

In turn, Chinese Baidu, which is not only China's largest Internet search engine, but also one of the leading high-tech companies in the country, is itself testing beta version of an unmanned vehicle. "Baidu is developing an autonomous vehicle to improve road safety - said Jing Wang, Senior Vice President, responsible for development of autonomous driving systems. - Our investment should accelerate development of such systems, using systems LiDAR from this company, which, we believe is the best in the world at the moment".  

Velodyne intends to intensify research work with help of Ford and Baidu’s investments. Among other things, the company’s strategy includes intentions to twice increase a team working on the three-dimensional sensor, as well as to optimize production base. Velodyne believes that its inventions should greatly reduce final price for automakers already in 2018.