VELODYNE LIDAR

Velodyne’s expertise with laser distance measurement started by participating in the 2005 Grand Challenge sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A race for autonomous vehicles across the Mojave desert, DARPA’s goal was to stimulate autonomous vehicle technology development for both military and commercial applications. Velodyne founder, David Hall, and team entered the competition as Team DAD (Digital Audio Drive), traveling 6.2 miles in the first event and 25 miles in the second. The team developed technology for visualizing the environment, first using a dual video camera approach and later developing the laser-based system that laid the foundation for Velodyne’s current products. The first Velodyne LiDAR scanner was about 30 inches in diameter and weighed close to 100 lbs. Choosing to commercialize the LiDAR scanner instead of competing in subsequent challenge events, Velodyne was able to dramatically reduce the sensor’s size and weight while also improving performance. Velodyne’s HDL-64E sensor was the primary means of terrain map construction and obstacle detection for all the top DARPA Urban Challenge teams in 2007 and used by five out of six of the finishing teams, including the winning and second place teams. In fact, some teams relied exclusively on the HDL-64E for the information about the environment used to navigate an autonomous vehicle through a simulated urban environment.