Waymo (Google’s self-driving division) will stop selling LIDAR technology

Ricky S
2 min readNov 16, 2021

This is a reversal from its earlier strategy to sell the lidars to non-automotive customers to bring down costs of a key and expensive component of self-driving cars.

Waymo is formally discontinuing sales of its proprietary sensors to third parties, only months after a CEO shakeup. The move marks the end of a business operation for the Alphabet-owned self-driving startup, which has only been in operation for two years. Waymo told Reuters that it is now focusing on deploying its Waymo Driver technology across its Waymo One ride-hailing and Waymo Via trucking operations. The decision follows the retirement of long-time CEO John Krafcik, who was succeeded by Waymo executives Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov.

Some speculated that Krafcik’s methodical approach was impeding the company’s efforts to commercialize. Waymo reached a milestone of 20 billion miles traveled in simulations earlier this month, with 20 million miles on public roads. It just rolled out its robotaxis to vetted riders in San Francisco a few days ago.

2019 report announcing Waymo sensor business

In 2019, Waymo began selling LiDARs — a technology that uses laser pulses to calculate distance — to firms other than its autonomous vehicle competitors. It intended to offer its short-range sensor (dubbed Laser Bear Honeycomb) to robotics, security, and agricultural technology companies at first. Drones, mapping, and entertainment are also listed as suitable sectors on the website’s form.

Waymo’s fifth-generation Driver technology employs a variety of sensors, including radar, lidar, and cameras, to enable its vehicles to “see” 360 degrees at all times of day and night, as well as in adverse weather conditions like rain or fog. While its simulated and real-world driving tests have assisted it in amassing a large dataset that is crunched using machine learning-based technologies.

Waymo plans to use in-house technology and external suppliers for its next-generation LiDARs, according to anonymous sources.

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