General Motors’ Cruise Automation Gets Self-driving Tech Boost with Strobe Acquisition

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General Motors (GM) has just completed the acquisition of Strobe, a company focused on self-driving car technology, for an undisclosed amount. America’s largest automaker announced the acquisition of the three-year-old company that’s based out of Pasadena, CA, this Monday.

Strobe specializes in equipment that uses laser imaging technology for autonomous vehicles. In other words, LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, a tech very similar to RADAR imaging, but using lasers instead of sound waves.

Though current LiDAR technology is too prohibitively expensive to make it commercially viable, Strobe’s technology reduces it all to a single chip. And this could be the edge that GM needs. The acquisition could have just given GM a leg up in the race to be the first company to develop its own self-driving car technology. The newly acquired company – and its 11 full-time employees – will be folded into Cruise Automation, another self-driving car technology company that GM acquired last year for over $1 billion.

With the acquisition of LiDAR technology via its acquisition of Strobe, GM should be able to move faster on the road to developing fully autonomous vehicles. Last year, GM’s CEO Mary Barra announced at a special press conference that the company would be building self-driving Chevy Bolt electric cars at their Orion Assembly Plant and testing them on Michigan Roads. Notably, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder helped pass into law a series of bills that allow self-driving cars to operate on public roads.

With the acquisition of Strobe, GM is one step closer to realizing its dream of launching a fully autonomous Chevy Bolt that does 238 miles per full battery charge. That dream could still be several years away, since we have yet to see evidence of successful testing. However, now that they’ve acquired more affordable LiDAR technology, it could help lubricate their efforts and help them get there faster.

The Bolt is already in production, so all it requires is for GM to get their self-driving car tech to a fully autonomous level. When that will happen is anyone’s guess. For now, there are literally dozens of companies vying to be the first to release a fully autonomous car to the market.