Ford Motor Co.’s push to broaden its self-driving vehicle technology portfolio, led to it taking a stake in a Silicon Valley company developing lidar systems needed to help guide autonomous vehicles.
The automaker revealed it owns a 7.6% stake, or 13.06 million shares, in Velodyne Lidar, according to a report filed with the Securities Exchange Commission. With the shares trading at $17.40 per share, the stake is worth approximately $227.2 million. Ford filed the report to remain compliant with the SEC.
Velodyne has a portfolio of lidar technologies, including sensor and software solutions, according to the company’s website. The company’s technology is used in automotive applications as well as other growing markets. In the automotive industry, it provides lidar for advanced driver assistance systems as well as for vehicle autonomy.
On trend for the industry, the tech company just went public merging with a special acquisition company called Graf Industrial Corp. Velodyne Lidar began trading on Nasdaq. Ford already had an ownership stake in the tech company in 2016.
This current total is revised to account for the automaker adding to its overall holdings in the company. The SEC filing did not reveal how many more shares Ford acquired after its initial investment four years ago.
After the new company began trading on the Nasdaq, Anand Gopalan, the company’s CEO, said, “Today marks another great milestone for Velodyne. We’ve grown into a global lidar powerhouse due to the significant contributions from our employees worldwide,” said Gopalan.
Ford has entered into a partnership with Volkswagen AG to develop autonomous vehicles and Ford and VW own stakes in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based, which is developing self-driving vehicle technology.
Lidar for new markets could include smart cities with smart intersections, security, mobile 3D mapping, industrial and factory robotics, smart agriculture, sidewalk drone/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and more, Velodyne said.
“There is a growing demand in these new markets as they ramp up business and expand. Velodyne’s lidar solutions are being utilized on a global scale by a highly diversified customer base,” according to the company’s website.
Velodyne holds an extensive portfolio of patents and patent applications. The company has served more than 300 customers in the automotive and technology industries, including nearly all the leading global automotive original equipment and technology manufacturers.