Veloydne Launches Upgraded Lidar Sensor

Velodyne Lidar Inc. says it has developed a new lidar technology that outperforms all currently available sensors to better enable fully autonomous vehicle operations.

The new VLS-128 solid-state unit features 128 laser beams, twice as many as the HDL-64 unit Velodyne launched in January. The supplier claims the system has the best resolution, longest range and widest field of view—and can deal with more complex situations—of any automotive lidar system.

The VLS-128 has double the range and four times the resolution of the HDL-64, which Velodyne says allows it to accumulate more than a billion more data points and generate a richer image. The new system also is 70% smaller than its predecessor.

This will enhance object detection and collision avoidance capabilities when a vehicle is operating autonomously at highways speeds. The VLS-128’s 905-nanometer technology allows it to operate effectively across a range of weather conditions.

Velodyne previewed the technology with customers during the Frankfurt auto show in September. The company has launched pilot production of the VLS-128 sensors in San Jose, Calif., using a proprietary fully automatic laser alignment and manufacturing system based on mass-produced CMOS semiconductor technologies.

The company says it has “dramatically reduced” the costs with the new lidar and expects prices to come down even more as volumes increase. Velodyne lidar systems used in early prototype autonomous vehicles cost as much as $80,000. But several companies have announced new solid-state systems that are expected to cost $250 or less.