Alphabet subsidiary Waymo will no longer sell lidar sensors to other companies. Waymo started this two years ago to increase the scale and ultimately reduce the cost of lidar sensors.
A Waymo spokesperson emphasizes to Reuters that the company will continue to produce lidar sensors itself. The spokesperson also says the company wants to focus on developing and releasing Waymo Driver on Waymo One and Via vehicles. Driver is Waymo’s name for the autonomous software, One and Via are taxi services and delivery services respectively.
The company began selling its own lidar systems in 2019, with Waymo not selling the sensors to competing companies that also developed autonomous cars. Instead, the company sold the systems to, say, robotics, farm and drone companies. It’s unclear if Waymo wasn’t making enough money from this, or if there’s some other reason for stopping the sale of lidar systems.
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, uses lasers to scan the environment. With lidar, self-driving vehicles can ‘see’ the environment and therefore navigate themselves. Waymo’s self-driving vehicles are now active and publicly available as One cars in the city of Phoenix, Arizona.