Velodyne Lidar

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Velodyne Lidar
FounderDavid Hall [1]
HeadquartersSan Jose, California, United States
Key people
  • Anand Gopalan, CEO[1]
  • Matt Rekow, CTO[1]
  • Drew Hamer, CFO[1]
  • Jim Barnhart, COO[1]
  • Sinclair Vass, CCO[1]
  • Sally Frykman, CMO[1]
  • Mike Jellen, CSO[2]
  • Kathy McBeath, CPO[1]
RevenueIncrease $101.1 Million(2019)[3]
Number of employees
500[4] (2018)

Velodyne Lidar is a Silicon Valley-based lidar technology company, headquartered in San Jose, California. It spun off from Velodyne Acoustics.[5] As of July 2020, the company has worked with more than 300 customers.[6] Velodyne Lidar ships sensors to mobility industry customers for testing and commercial use in autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, mapping, robotics, infrastructure and smart city applications.[4][7][8][9]


David Hall founded Velodyne in 1983 as an audio company specializing in subwoofer technology.[2][10]

Velodyne's experience with laser distance measurement started in 2005, when David Hall and his brother Bruce (then president of Velodyne) entered a vehicle in a driverless car race called DARPA Grand Challenge sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).[11] The experience led them to realize shortcomings both in camera-centric approaches and in existing lidar technology, which only scanned a single, fixed line of sight.[12] Velodyne developed new sensors for the 2007 race. The brothers sold their perception detection system as a steering input to five of the six teams that finished the 2007 race. The system rotated 64 lasers and measured the time of flight to calculate distance of surrounding objects. This created a 360 degree 3D map of the environment.[13] The new system produced one million data points per second, while earlier systems produced 5,000 data points per second.[12]

A Velodyne HDL-64E, an HDL-32E, a Puck, and an Ultra Puck

Velodyne donated one of its early prototype sensors to the Robotics Collection at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in 2011.[14][15]

In 2016, Velodyne's Lidar department was spun off from Velodyne Acoustics as Velodyne Lidar, Inc.[16] On August 16, 2016, Velodyne announced a $150M investment from Ford and Baidu.[17]

In 2017, Velodyne opened their fully automated megafactory in San Jose, California, to speed up production while reducing the cost of sensors. The company also has an R&D center in Alameda, California.[18] The same year, Velodyne also provided their sensors as a sponsor of the SAE GM AutoDrive Challenge, a three-year competition in which eight university teams develop a Level 4 automated vehicle.[19]

Since 2018, Velodyne has partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in a campaign to advance autonomous vehicles for improving roadway safety and preventing impaired driving deaths.[20][21] Since October 2018, Velodyne organizes the annual World Safety Summit on Autonomous Technology.[22][23] In the same year, the company also signed agreements to collaborate with Nikon and Veoneer for manufacturing and mass production.[24][25]

In July 2019, the company acquired mapping and localization software as well as intellectual property assets from[26]

In January 2020, Hall stepped down as CEO in favor of Anand Gopalan, who was previously CTO.[27] On July 2, 2020, Velodyne Lidar combined with Graf Industrial Corp. to become a publicly-traded company and by September 2020, it began trading stocks and warrants on NASDAQ under the ticker symbols, VLDR and VLDRW.[28]


An Alpha Puck, Velarray, and VelaDome

Applications for Velodyne Lidar's technology include autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems, mapping, security, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Velodyne's sensors have a range of up to 300 meters and can be used for immediate object detection without additional sensor fusion.[29][30] When in use on a moving vehicle, a Velodyne sensor can create a precise image of the road ahead, including detailed street signs and foliage.[31]

In April 2017, Velodyne announced Velarray, a sensor that produces a directional image rather than the surround view provided by previous sensors. The range, resolution, and field of view facilitate object detection, allowing for longer braking distance and increased safety. Designed for seamless vehicle integration, this compact sensor generates a detailed directional image, day or night. It can be concealed within roof lines, in bumpers and behind windshields.[32][33]

Also in 2017, the company introduced the Alpha Puck (previously known as VLS-128) sensor with a range of up to 300 meters.[34][35] This sensor is made for autonomous driving and advanced vehicle safety at highway speeds.[36]

In 2019, Velodyne introduced the VelaDome™, a compact embeddable lidar that provides a 180° x 180° image for near-object avoidance. The company also introduced Vella™, software that establishes the Velarray™ as an integral component for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).[37] In November 2019, Velodyne introduced Alpha Prime™, a lidar sensor for improving vehicle safety and enabling precise mapping.[38]

In 2020, Velodyne introduced Velabit™, the company’s smallest sensor,[39] Velarray H800, a solid state sensor built using its proprietary micro-lidar array architecture.[40] and Velarray M1600, a solid state sensor for mobile robots and last-mile delivery systems.[41]

Partners and customers[edit]

Velodyne Lidar Alpha Puck on a Voyage vehicle

In 2010, Google (now Alphabet) began testing self-driving cars on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area using Velodyne's Lidar technology.[42] Alphabet's first self-driving car prototype (built on Toyota's Prius model) used Velodyne's HDL-64E lidar sensor.[43] Since then, Alphabet has stopped using Velodyne sensors in its vehicles.[44]

In 2012, Velodyne Lidar signed a contract with Caterpillar for a supply of lidar sensors to be used for off-road vehicles.[45] These sensors help Caterpillar map quarries, farms and work sites during construction.[46]

In 2012 through 2015, Velodyne's spinning HDL-32E sensors have been seen on mobile mapping vehicles by Nokia Here,[47] Microsoft Bing Maps,[48] Tencent,[49] Baidu, and TomTom.[50] Leading mapping providers like Topcon[51] and Leica Geosystems[52] also use Velodyne's scanners for their turnkey mobile solutions.[buzzword]

In 2016, Ford Motor Company announced that it will expand its fleet of self-driving R&D vehicles and use Velodyne Lidar's Ultra Puck sensors.[43][53][54] As of December 31, 2020, Ford Motor Company liquidated its 7.6% stake in Velodyne Lidar.[55][56]

In 2017, Velodyne partnered with Renovo as Reference Lidar provider for AWare automated mobility operating system[57] and with Mercedes-Benz for a Perception System Contract.[58]

In 2018, the company partnered with Embark,[59] Geodetics,[60] Voyage,[61] Exyn Technologies,[62] Yellowscan,[63] Phoenix LiDAR,[64] NAVYA,[65] ThorDrive[66] and Postmates.[67] Velodyne Lidar also partnered with Nikon as a new strategic investor with an investment of $25M.[68]

In 2019, Velodyne partnered with Clearpath Robotics,[69] Holomatic,[70] Kaarta[71] and Hyundai Mobis.[72]

In 2020, the company announced agreements with TLD,[73] EasyMile,[74] Emesent,[75] Baidu[76] and Local Motors.[77]


Name HDL-64E HDL-32E Puck Puck Lite Puck Hi-Res Ultra Puck Alpha Prime
Model HDL-64E[78] HDL-32E[79] VLP-16[80] VLP-16 LW[81] VLP-16 Hi-Res[82] VLP-32C[83] VLS-128[84]
Announced August 2007 November 2010 November 2014 February 2016 September 2016 April 2016 November 2019
Channels 64 32 16 16 16 32 128
Range 120 m 100 m 100 m 100 m 100 m 200 m 300 m
Accuracy ±2 cm ±2 cm ±3 cm ±3 cm ±3 cm ±3 cm ±3 cm
Field of View (Vertical) +2.0° to -24.9° +10.67° to 30.67° +15.0° to -15.0° +15.0° to -15.0° +10.0° to -10.0° +15.0° to -25.0° +15.0° to -25.0°
Angular Resolution (Vertical) 0.4° 1.33° 2.0° 2.0° 1.33° 0.33° 0.11°
Field of View (Horizontal) 360° 360° 360° 360° 360° 360° 360°
Angular Resolution (Horizontal) 0.08°-0.35° 0.1°-0.4° 0.1°-0.4° 0.1°-0.4° 0.1°-0.4° 0.1°-0.4° 0.1°-0.4°
Rotation Rate 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz 5–20 Hz
Data Points Per Second 1,300,000 (single)

2,200,000 (dual)

695,000 (single)

1,390,000 (dual)

300,000 (single)

600,000 (dual)

300,000 (single)

600,000 (dual)

300,000 (single)

600,000 (dual)

600,000 (single)

1,200,000 (dual)

2,400,000 (single)

4,800,000 (dual)

Power 60 watt 12 watt 8 watt 8 watt 8 watt 10 watt 22 watt
Weight 12.7 kg 1.0 kg 830 g 590 g 830 g 925 g 3.5 kg
Diameter 215 mm 85 mm 103 mm 103 mm 103 mm 103 mm 165.5 mm
Height 283 mm 144 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm 87 mm 141.3 mm

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 2015, Frost & Sullivan gave Velodyne's VLP-16 sensor the North American Automotive ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) Sensors Product Leadership Award[85]
  • In 2017, Velodyne Lidar was an Honoree at the CES Innovation Awards, Drones & Unmanned Systems, for the Puck Lite[86]
  • In 2017, Velodyne was recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Transportation[87]
  • In 2018, Velodyne Lidar was selected as “Industry Choice Company of the Year” by a panel of industry expert judges at the TU-Automotive Detroit Conference[88]
  • In 2018, Velodyne was honored with East Bay Innovation Awards in the Engineering & Design Category[89]
  • In 2018, the Ultra Puck won the silver 2018 Edison Award for Autonomous Vehicle Technology[90]
  • In 2020, Velodyne was selected as “Hardware Supplier of the Year” for the TU-Automotive awards[91]
  • In 2020, Velodyne’s Velabit™ lidar sensor won an Innovation Award in Silicon Valley Robotics Industry Awards[92]


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