With the rise of the third generation AGV navigation technology, the lidar sensor has become a weapon for a new generation of mobile robots. However, because of the high price of laser radar, many AGV manufacturers are daunting. At present, low-cost magnetic strip navigation is still the main market, but natural navigation is a trend. Laser radar can build real-time maps, no longer restricted by the environment, and robots realize autonomous navigation.
In the third generation navigation technology, in addition to the laser SLAM approach, a visual SLAM approach can also be employed. In terms of cost, the value of the camera is cheaper than that of the laser radar, and it can identify more objects, but the positioning accuracy is not as good as that of the laser radar, and the visual algorithm gate is relatively high, and requires a better hardware computing platform support. Therefore, the laser SLAM has great advantages and will coexist with other navigation methods in the future.
Recently, laser radar technology company Velodyne Lidar, based in California, announced that it has cooperated with Nikon Corporation to manufacture laser radar sensors for Velodyne from Nikon subsidiary Sendai Nikon, and plans to start mass production in the second half of 2019. This collaboration will expand Velodyne Lidar's leading position in the global lidar sensor market, helping to further reduce the manufacturing cost of lidar sensors.
For Velodyne Lidar, mass production of its high-performance lidar sensors is key to expanding sales plans in North America, Europe and Asia. Over the years, Velodyne has been perfecting lidar technology to produce thousands of lidar units for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver assistance systems, and the company has played a leading role in the design, manufacture and sale of lidars.
It is reported that the goal of this cooperation is to produce millions of laser radars with its manufacturing partner Nikon. Velodyne plans to use Nikon's production line to achieve large-scale manufacturing of products and promote sales of laser radars in other emerging markets. The collaboration will help launch low-cost lidar solutions that benefit a range of business areas including robotics, security, mapping, agriculture and drones.
As a leader in laser radar sensors, Velodyne Lidar currently has more than 250 customers worldwide, its products are mainly used in the automotive field, providing laser radar solutions to help achieve vehicle autonomy and driving assistance. In addition to cars, laser radar will also be used in mobile robots, which are stored in the AGV robot market by laser SLAM. Cheaper laser radar sensors can help mobile robot manufacturers develop.
Nikon is an expert in precision manufacturing and will maintain the highest standards for the production of lidar sensors. Its proven production experience will reduce the cost of manufacturing products and provide more affordable prices to customers around the world. In recent years, Velodyne has been working more closely with Nikon. Last year, Nikon invested $25 million in Velodyne with the goal of combining Nikon's optical and precision technology with Velodyne's lidar sensor technology.
Mobile robot AGV has grown rapidly in recent years. According to industry analysis, China's AGV sales reached nearly 3,000 units last year, with total sales exceeding 4.2 billion yuan, up more than 35% year-on-year. And the new generation of navigation technology will open a wider range of applications for AGV, from manufacturing, logistics to business applications. The high cost is the main reason hindering laser navigation. If the cost of the lidar sensor sensor can be further reduced, the laser navigation AGV will soon become the mainstream of the market.