Velodyne Lidar Inc. today announced the Velarray M1600, a new solid-state lidar sensor that it said is designed for mobile robots and last-mile delivery systems. The company said the sensor is the latest in its Velarray product line and the first in its M-series. Velodyne built the M1600 using its proprietary micro-lidar array architecture, or MLA, and manufacturing partnerships for cost optimization and high-volume production.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven up the usage of online shopping and delivery services for food, medications, and consumer and commercial products. In the U.S., this past Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday weekend broke all records for online shopping and the usage of delivery services, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CNBC. Adobe Analytics predicted that $184 billion will be spent online during the entire holiday period, a 30% increase over 2019.
The Velarray M1600 can enable touchless mobile and last-mile delivery robots to operate autonomously and safely, without human intervention, said Velodyne Lidar. The San Jose, Calif.-based company, which was listed on NASDAQ in September, claims to have invented real-time, surround-view lidar, ushering in a new wave of autonomous technology. Velodyne added that its sensors and software serve a wide range of industries, including autonomous vehicles, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), smart cities, and security.
Velarray M1600 compact, works with ROS
Designed for functional safety and durability, the Velarray M1600 supports autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in a wide variety of challenging environmental conditions, including temperature, lighting, and precipitation. “Featuring a compact form factor, the sensor is well-suited for external mounting but also can be easily embedded into robotics systems,” said Velodyne.
The Velarray M1600 provides near-field perception up to 30 meters and a broad 32-degree vertical field of view to allow AMRs to traverse unstructured and changing environments at a walking pace, the company said. The sensor is designed to enable robots to safely navigate crowded sidewalks and corridors for delivery and security applications.
Other environments in which AMRs can use the Velarray M1600 include warehouses, retail centers, industrial plants, and medical facilities. For customers seeking a perception package, Velodyne offers the Vella software, which uses Velarray M1600 data for object and hazard detection, to protect roadway users including pedestrians, bicyclists, and pets.
In addition, a Robot Operating System (ROS) driver is available for the Velarray M1600, providing a user-friendly interface for developers, said Velodyne. It noted that the sensor has modest power demands, so robots can operate longer between battery charges.
Velodyne continues autonomy support
“The Velarray M1600 lidar sensor is the latest proof point for Velodyne’s innovation track record,” stated Anand Gopalan, CEO of Velodyne Lidar. “The sensor was designed for high-volume mobile robotic applications, with direct input from robotics and last-mile delivery customers.”
“This durable and compact sensor can be deployed in a wide variety of environments and weather conditions allowing nearly 365-day, 24/7 usage,” he said. “It can provide the smart, real-time perception data required by autonomous mobile robots for safe and extended operation without human intervention.”
Velodyne also offers a whitepaper on “The Benefits of 3D Lidar for Autonomous Mobile Robots.” The company said samples will be available to qualified customers with a lead time of approximately six to eight weeks.
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