Self-driving startup Aurora to buy lidar company Blackmore

Blackmore says its technology has greater range

Blackmore lidar
Blackmore lidar / Image Credit: Blackmore
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Self-driving car startup Aurora Innovation said on Thursday it would buy Montana-based Blackmore, a company that develops lidar detection technology used in self-driving vehicles.

Aurora is among dozens of automakers and large technology companies working on self-driving systems, and has partnerships with Byton, Hyundai and Volkswagen to develop and test self-driving systems.

With the notable exception of Elon Musk's Tesla, most automakers have said their self-driving cars will employ lidar along with other forms of imaging.

Autoblog recently had the chance to ride along and watch Blackmore's technology in action. The company says its version of lidar has longer range of sight — seeing 200 meters out instead of the 100-meter range limit of other systems; is more reliable in adverse weather conditions; and has the ability to better distinguish between certain shapes from greater distance.

The technology uses laser light pulses to render precise images of the environment around the car and is currently used by companies including General Motors, Ford Motor and Alphabet Inc's Waymo.

"Lidar is critical for developing the safest and most reliable self-driving system, one that can navigate our roads more safely than a human driver," said Aurora's Chief Executive Officer Chris Urmson, who earlier led Alphabet's self-driving program.

Toyota has partnered with several lidar startups, including Blackmore and Luminar, but the Japanese automaker continues to evaluate new sensing technologies.

Last week, Nissan said it would, for now, stick to self-driving technology that uses radar sensors and cameras, avoiding lidar because of its high cost and limited capabilities.

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