At the heart of self-driving and autonomous technology are LiDAR sensors that use laser light to accurately detect objects nearby. Many consider LiDAR to be an important piece of technology for self-driving cars but is currently cost prohibitive for mass-consumer use. Waymo, a business coming out of Google’s driverless car project, recently announced that it will sell its LiDAR sensors outside of the automotive industry including agricultural technology, among others. Waymo is hopeful sales to other industries will help scale the technology faster and reduce cost.
Waymo has numerous patent applications relating to the LiDAR technology. Based on available public data, Waymo has over 20 patent families related to LiDAR sensors. Included in these families is U.S. Patent No. 9,086,273, which was part of a lawsuit between Waymo and Uber last year (Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al, 3:17-cv-00939). That lawsuit, which also included alleged trade secret violations, was settled mid-trial after Uber agreed to give Waymo equity in the ride-hailing company.