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Lidar sensors are a key component for autonomous cars as it allows their computers to take a 3D image of their surroundings.
Apple and Lidar have seen their stock rise, amid a report on an imminent autonomous car from Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL). Velodyne Lidar (NASDAQ: VLDR), a Silicon Valley-based lidar technology company, and Luminar, a universal photo editing software application that both makes lidar sensors saw their stock rise almost 23% and over 27% respectively on December 21.
According to the report, Apple does not have any prospective lidar suppliers lined up and could even resort to designing their own lidar sensors. Apple however is rumored to have decided on using outside partners for parts of its autonomous car system and that might include lidar sensors.
Lidar sensors are a key component for autonomous cars as it allows their computers to take a 3D image of their surroundings. The sensors also calculate and measure the range or velocity of surrounding objects and how far away they are as well as its motion. Newer devices from Apple including iPads and iPhones have their camera modules equipped with an Apple-designed lidar sensor.
Apple has announced to move forward with its self-driving car plan and has targeted 2024 to produce a passenger car that could boast of battery technology. Efforts on the autonomous car from Apple dubbed Project Titan has been a bumpy one since its first attempt to design its own vehicle from scratch in 2014. The company however decided to scale back its efforts at one point and decided to channel that focus on software rather. 190 people were subsequently laid off by Doug Field, a higher rank at Apple who once worked at Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) and was overseeing the project in 2018. Apple has since progressed on that plan and is now looking to build a vehicle for consumers according to reports.
Plans on the autonomous car from Apple however isn’t aligned with that of rivals including Alphabet’s Waymo which are into “building robo-taxis to carry passengers for a driverless ride-hailing service.” Apple’s efforts are rather centered on a new battery design that could “radically cut the cost of batteries as well as increase the vehicle’s range.
The company has previously tested autonomous cars in California with a safety driver inside who can take control over the wheel. An older version of their self-driving vehicles had visible lidar sensors on top of them but a new version according to reports had the sensors hidden inside a casing.
Luminar entered the market through a SPAC earlier this month and has now sailed a 172% since. Luminar is a company focused on developing technology. Velodyne also went public in September through a SPAC. The company sold 2,235 sensor units in November, with each selling at a price of $5,600.