Enlarge (credit: GM)
General Motors has acquired Strobe, a lidar startup that could give the giant automaker a leg up in the race to make self-driving cars a mainstream technology. Kyle Vogt, founder of the self-driving car startup Cruise (which GM acquired last year), announced the acquisition in a Monday blog post.
Lidar—short for light radar—is widely seen as a key sensor technology for self-driving cars.

By sending out laser pulses and measuring how long it takes for them to bounce back, lidar builds a detailed 3-D map of a car’s surroundings.
The first generation of automotive lidar sits on top of the car, spinning around to collect a panoramic 360-degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

These mechanical systems have worked well enough for building self-driving car prototypes, but their complexity makes it hard to achieve the low cost and durability required for the mass market.
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