Two self-driving startups team up to build a different kind of lidar

Two self-driving startups team up to build a different kind of lidar

Enlarge / Four Blackmore lidar units sit atop a demo vehicle in Washington DC. (credit: Timothy B. Lee)

Fresh from a $530 million fundraising round earlier this year, self-driving startup Aurora made a big bet on lidar last week. The company—founded by veterans of Tesla and of Google’s self-driving car projects—scooped up a Montana-based lidar startup called Blackmore.

Lidar sensors have a lot in common with fiber-optic communications gear. Both work by sending out information encoded in light, then recapturing it and interpreting the information it contains.

Blackmore’s leaders have deep ties to the optical telecom industry, and the company aims to pack more and more components of its lidar sensors into photonic integrated circuits that have been pioneered in the optical telecom sector. These circuits are expensive to design but affordable to manufacture at scale. Earlier this year, Blackmore’s most powerful lidar sensors cost as much as $20,000. But

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