Solid state LiDAR to debut at CES (but only for developers)

The sensor gold rush continues in 2018 thanks to rapid development of self-driving vehicles

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Innoviz Technologies, which makes LiDAR sensors, announced today that it's bringing an early version of its solid state LiDAR technology to market.

The device, called the InnovizPro, is geared toward developers and is an early version of a forthcoming solid state LiDAR sensor due out in 2019.

The rush to market is a sign of how competitive things are getting in the sensor space when it comes to self-driving vehicles. This year's CES will feature a number of LiDAR and Radar solutions that are smaller, yield higher resolution, and are available cheaper than ever before.

LiDAR (Light Imaging Detection and Ranging) has been around for about fifty years and was first developed by the U.S. military in collaboration with NASA as a means of measuring distance in space. In the mid-1990s it got its first commercial application for measuring topography for various mapping applications.

Only more recently, with the advent of self-driving technology, has LIDAR been poised for wider adoption. The technology remains expensive, though prices have plummeted 90 percent compared to just a few years ago, a testament to the pace of development and the scale of competition in self-driving technology. Devices have also gotten drastically smaller. Alphabet-owned Waymo is often credited with leading the charge to bring prices for LiDAR arrays, which cost $75,000 per unit in the early 2000s, down rapidly.

In October Cruise, a self-driving startup acquired by GM, purchased LiDAR maker strobe, which has condensed an entire LiDAR array to a single chip. With GM's muscle behind the acquisition, analysts predict the cost of the technology will soon plummet by 100 percent.

Innoviz is eager to get Tier-1 suppliers and automotive manufacturers to adopt its LiDAR technology. Founded in early 2016 and backed by $82 million in funding, Innoviz boasts being one of the first LiDAR providers to deliver a complete product to market.

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