Velodyne LiDAR launches Puck Hi-Res 3D sensor for autonomous cars

After receiving a $150 million investment from Ford and Baidu last month, Velodyne LiDAR has introduced the world to its latest LiDAR (Light, Detection, and Ranging) sensor. The next installment in its Puck line of sensors, the Puck Hi-Res looks to corner markets that require higher resolution images that standard 3D sensors can't offer, so it's no wonder that the world of autonomous cars is firmly in its sights.

This is the third Puck model released this year, and actually, the entire line of Puck sensors has been launched within 2016. The Puck Hi-Res offers the same 360-degree horizontal field-of-view of its predecessor, the VLP-16 Puck, along with the same 16-channel, real-time LiDAR functionality. The 100-meter range stays the same as well, with the major difference coming in the latest Puck's 20-degree vertical field-of-view, which allows for tighter channel distribution.

This translates to what is essentially better object detection at larger ranges than the LiDAR Pucks that came before it, which is a pretty major advantage for any manufacturer who plans to use this latest Puck model in its autonomous driving systems.

"Introducing a high-resolution LiDAR solution is essential to advancing any industry that leverages the capture of 3D images, from autonomous navigation to mapping to surveillance," said Velodyne LiDAR President and COO Mike Jellen. "The Puck Hi-Res sensor will provide the most detailed 3D views possible from LiDAR, enabling widespread adoption of this technology while increasing safety and reliability."

Where does that investment from Ford and Baidu come in? Though Velodyne LiDAR says that the Puck Hi-Res was well into its development cycle by the time the two companies announced the investment, that surge of $150 million in funding will allow Velodyne LiDAR to ramp up production on the new unit, making it more widely available at a lower cost than what it was originally destined for. Velodyne LiDAR is now taking orders for the Puck Hi-Res, though get ready for a bit of a wait before those orders are shipped, as the company says the lead time is currently eight weeks.