Velodyne Unveils a New Solid State Lidar Sensor for Driver Assistance Systems & Autonomous Driving

Velodyne Unveils a New Solid State Lidar Sensor for Driver Assistance Systems & Autonomous Driving

Author: Eric Walz   

Silicon Valley lidar pioneer Velodyne Lidar Inc. has unveiled its newest lidar sensor designed to support advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) as well as autonomous driving. The sensor is called the Velarray H800.

The solid state Velarray H800 is designed for automotive grade performance and built using Velodyne's proprietary micro-lidar array architecture (MLA). With combined long-range perception and a wide field of view, this sensor is designed for safe navigation and collision avoidance.

The Velarray H800 is targeted at automakers and OEMs, enabling them to develop better ADAS systems, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist that helps reduce traffic accidents and make the roads safer, including for pedestrians and bicyclists. The H800 lidar can also support autonomous driving systems with its advanced perception capabilities.

The Velarray H800 can detect objects at a longer range up to 200 meters, which is enough distance to bring a vehicle to a complete stop if an object is in its path, even at highway speeds. 

The lidar supports ADAS and autonomous driving from Level 2 to Level 5, Velodyne says. 

With a field of view of 120 horizontal degrees by 16 vertical degrees, the Velarray H800 can detect overhead objects and works even on hills and curved roads. 

"Velodyne wants to improve roadway safety by making all vehicles smarter. That's why we are working so hard to provide ADAS technology that can be implemented in the marketplace now," said Velodyne CEO Anand Gopalan

The Velarray H800's compact design can fit neatly behind the windshield or be mounted on the vehicle exterior, such as in the front bumper. The compact, low cost sensor can also be paired with Velodyne's Vella ADAS software.

Velodyne said the Velarray H800 will be available at high-volume production levels with a target price of less than $500 to help drive broad adoption in consumer and commercial vehicle markets. 

The H800 lidar will help support the development of more advanced self-driving systems, thereby increasing the public's acceptance of autonomous driving technology. Many people have concerns about the safety of sharing the road with or being a passenger in a self-driving car, but Velodyne wants to change that.

"We want to help build the public's trust in automated vehicle systems," said Marta Hall, Velodyne founder and CMO. "We believe the Velarray H800 is the first of many lidar sensors that will be used in systems for powerful vehicle safety."

Velodyne is a pioneer in the development of lidar, which is an acronym for "light detection and ranging." Velodyne's founder David Hall invented 360 degree lidar systems back in 2005. The company is the highest volume supplier of lidar sensors to the automotive industry, with more than 250 customers globally, according to Velodyne. 

Lidar works by bouncing pulses of laser light off objects and measuring the time its takes for the beams to reflect back. The reflected light is used to generate a precise, three-dimensional image of an object known as a "point cloud."


Using pulses of laser light, lidar can generate 3D images of a vehicle's surroundings. (Photo: Velodyne Lidar Inc.)

Over the past several years, lidar has become an essential piece of hardware for self-driving cars, acting as the "eyes" of the vehicle. When lidar perceptions systems are combined with AI and robotics, it can help a self-driving vehicle to safely navigate. 

The 3D images generated by lidar are detailed enough to see which direction pedestrians are facing at an intersection, which supports AI-based prediction and motion planning software that's used in self-driving vehicles.

When Google began working on self-driving cars in 2009, Velodyne was chosen as its lidar supplier.

Velodyne's newest systems are built with advanced solid state lidar technology, with no moving parts, which are much more reliable for use in automotive ADAS.

"Velodyne's launch of the Velarray H800 lidar sensor, which is the first in a family of solid state lidars we will be releasing publicly, is important to automakers for three reasons," said Gopalan. "First, the Velarray H800 was specifically designed for high volume automotive applications with feedback from leading OEM customers. It uses Velodyne's global network of high-quality manufacturing partnerships that provide the high quantity automakers need. Second, Velodyne's proprietary technology and experience, combined with our manufacturing capacity, allow us to offer the sensor at a price that makes economic sense for automakers. Third, the world needs enhanced safety in consumer vehicles and the Velarray product line makes that available to end consumers creating safer roadways and cars for all."

The Velarray H800 is Velodyne's first new sensor to be launched since the company went public on September 30, 2020 in a reverse merger agreement with Graf Industrial Corp. (GRAF), a special special purpose acquisition company.

Velodyne is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol "VLDR." 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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