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 by the time Aurora is ready to start selling its self-driving stack to automakers, Blackmore lidar is slated to cost a fraction of that price.
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