General Motors, America’s largest car manufacturer, is completely focused on manufacturing self-driving cars. As a step towards achieving this goal, the company acquired a startup called Pasadena on Monday. General Motors also announced plans to release a fleet of electric vehicles by 2023 last week. The company aims to lay the foundation of an ‘all-electric future’ through this move.
Pasadena produces a laser-based imaging technology known as Lidar. Lidar uses a pulsed laser sensor to measure the distance between objects, and it is a crucial component of autonomous vehicle navigation systems.
Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation, which was acquired by GM last year, said that the high price and the complexity of the laser imaging technology was a major hindrance to advancements in self-driving car technology.
“To solve these problems we’ve acquired Strobe, a company that has quietly been building the leading next-generation Lidar sensors,” Vogt wrote in a blog post.
“But perhaps more importantly, by collapsing the entire sensor down to a single chip, we’ll reduce the cost of each LIDAR on our self-driving cars by 99%. As the cost of our self-driving vehicles declines, we’ll be able to accelerate the rate of vehicle production and more quickly roll out our technology to suburban and rural areas where ride sharing is less common today,” Vogt added.
Ray Wert, GM’s head of Advanced Technology Communication, said the new fleet of electric vehicles will feature a variety of automotive body styles but will focus on the heart of the current market: crossovers and SUVs.
He said that the shift to becoming a zero emissions company won’t happen overnight, but that it is part of a larger goal to play a role in creating a world that has “zero emissions, zero congestion and zero crashes.”
“We understand that we could play a huge role in leading the way there,” Wert added. “There are a lot of players that need to come to the table if we’re going to get to that zero-emissions world. But we’re not going to be standing on the sidelines.”