The Story of Velodyne

Of all the funny stories in the self-driving car world, surely one of the most improbable is the transformation of Velodyne from a subwoofer manufacturer into the world’s premier lidar supplier.

Lidar, an array of lasers, is the key to tracking and understanding the environment around a vehicle, at least until computers get good enough to do this with a camera.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a short writeup of how Dave Hall transformed his audio company into an autonomous sensor company, and I’d love to read the book-length version. It involves the DARPA Grand Challenge and a tinkerer on “the lunatic fringe”. The story is an old-school inventor’s dream.

For now, though, I’m just grateful for Udacity’s two VLP-16 units and our precious HDL-32E.

Also? Velodyne is a Udacity hiring partner.

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