Waymo to Sell Lidar for Non-Auto Applications

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo self-driving car unit hopes to lower the cost of its lidar sensors by building a market for them beyond the auto industry.

Waymo (formerly known as Google Project X) began developing its own lidar systems in 2011. The company uses three variants with short-, medium- and long-range fields of view.

For now, Waymo only plans to sell its short-range “Laser Bear Honeycomb” system (pictured). The company says it initially will target agricultural, robotics and security applications.

The short-range perimeter sensor has a 360° horizontal field of view and as much as a 95° vertical field. Waymo says the lidar has a minimum range of zero, allowing the device to detect objects immediately in front of it. This makes the sensor well suited for low-speed applications in which near-object detection and avoidance is necessary.

Waymo uses lidar coupled with radar and cameras on its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. The Laser Bear sensor is mounted on the vehicle’s bumpers.

Simon Verghese, who heads Waymo’s lidar team, posted a blog about third-party sales HERE.