Waymo is set on Wednesday to begin selling the laser-mapping sensors used on its driverless vehicles to other companies—as long as the customers don’t compete with its core robotaxi business. The sensors, known as lidar, shoot lasers off objects to determine what’s nearby. The next generation of warehouse robots, security systems, and even autonomous tractors could all be built with this technology.
Waymo, which began as Google’s self-driving car project in 2009, is widely considered the leader in autonomous vehicles. It launched the first commercial self-driving car service late last year in the suburbs of Phoenix and now says it has “several hundred” riders enrolled. The new sensor division will compete with the world’s biggest lidar producer, Velodyne Lidar Inc., in what has become a billion-dollar industry.