GM Buys Strobe/Cruise Automation to Compete in Self-Driving Car Race

In the race to be the trendsetter and frontrunner in the emerging self-driving cars industry, General Motors is teaming with a California tech company to develop new technology to compete with Alphabet and Tesla.

It should not surprise you to learn that GM has found a partner in California company Strobe—as it seems California is the place to be if you want to develop autonomous vehicles—but, more importantly, Strobe is already doing excellent work in this industry.

According to Cruise Automation founder and CEO Kyle Vogt, “Strobe’s LIDAR technology will significantly improve the cost and capabilities of our vehicles so that we can more quickly accomplish our mission to deploy driverless vehicles at scale.”

GM will be looking to hire (or also acquire) the Cruise Automation engineering start-up sometime soon, though the details have not been disclosed.

LiDAR technology, of course, refers to the sensors automated vehicles need to properly and effectively map, localize, and identify objects in order to detect and avoid collisions. Essentially, this technology uses light to create high-resolution images which are generally regarded as more accurate than cameras or radar.

The plan, then, is for GM to merge Strobe with the Cruise Automation Unit. So far, GM has dished out more than $1 billion to make this purchase, back in March 2016, and more money is likely on the way. And this move certainly represents just the latest step in the right direction for a century-old carmaker to get ahead of the autonomous, driverless vehicle revolution. It was only as recent as 2014 that the company promised to introduce vehicles with better communications technology and autonomous driving options.

With that in mind, it makes sense that GM would scoop up Cruise Automation as the company unveiled a mass-producible car prototype just last month. Cruise Automation said that this design will have the necessary redundancy and safety requirements that will allow it to operate without a driver.

Obviously, the company is largely banking on the accuracy of LiDAR to play a crucial role in developing this new fleet.

“The successful deployment of self-driving vehicles will be highly dependent on the availability of LIDAR sensors,” said Julie Schoenfeld, Founder and CEO, Strobe, Inc. “Strobe’s deep engineering talent and technology backed by numerous patents will play a significant role in helping GM and Cruise bring these vehicles to market sooner than many think.”


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