LiDAR is how the vehicles detect what is around them. LiDAR sensors measure distances by measuring the Time of Flight (TOF) that it takes a short laser pulse to travel from the sensor to an object and back, calculating the distance from the known speed of light.
Each of those 3 companies has raised many millions in early rounds (none beyond Series B). According to James Altucher sources, they each carry a $1B+ valuation which puts them in the Unicorn classification. (I can’t link to the source because it is an insider newsletter)
James believes that Velodyne is the clear leader at this point. Velodyne raised $150M in August 2016 from investors that included Ford, Google, and Baidu. He mentions that Velodyne’s products are currently being used in 25 different self-driving programs.
Of course, as private companies, we can’t invest in these companies. But James is recommending to look at Ford as a way into Velodyne.
Of all the car companies, I do like Ford the best. They have made interesting investments and partnerships. My wife has a Ford Focus and it’s a pretty decent car.
I can’t bring myself to invest in car companies at this time, though. I’ve been reading too much about sub-prime car loans going bust, similar to how sub-prime housing went bust in 2007. Obviously, the car market isn’t nearly as big, but it’s still significant.
I’m currently short GM and that is going pretty well so far…