During CES 2020, velodyne, the originator of lidar, released a lidar called velabit, and announced that its mass production price was only $100. In ten years, the price of car lidar has dropped from $100000 to $100.
Of course, velabit’s $100 performance is not comparable to the 64 line, tens of thousands of dollars product velodyne was selling before. However, velodyne’s competitors have reduced the original price of tens of thousands of dollars to thousands of dollars, and may continue to drop to hundreds of dollars.
There are more than 30 laser radar manufacturers participating in the ces2020, and most of them are priced between hundreds and thousands of dollars. Among them, hundreds of dollars of products are mostly used in L3 level automatic driving or L4 level automatic driving blind area detection radar. Thousands of dollars of products can be used as L4 level automatic driving main radar for long-distance and large-scale detection.
There is no doubt that from the beginning of ces2020, the global lidar will enter into a fierce price war. The participants include Bosch of tire 1, Huawei of ICT, Dajiang of UAV, velodyne, the originator of lidar, and start-ups such as Hesai and Suteng.
In addition to the fierce price war, from the beginning of CES 2020, lidar will inevitably move to the vehicle regulation level, and the arrival of price drop + vehicle regulation level will promote the mass production of automatic driving, including L3 and L4 level automatic driving. For the laser radar enterprises participating in the war, the fierce competition in the future is the zero sum game, where the winners basically eat all and the losers have nothing.
01 giant enter
Before the official opening of ces2020 and during the exhibition, several things happened in the lidar industry:
1. Bosch officially announced that its first long-range lidar sensor (optical detection and ranging) applicable to vehicle gauge has entered the stage of mass production and development;
2. The livox lidar in Xinjiang was exposed. During CES 2020, the livox horizon with a price of 6499 yuan and the tele-15 with a price of 9000 yuan were released;
3. Velodyne launches velabit for $100, just the size of a playing card;
4. Bosch announced that it would take the lead to invest a record US $173 million in the C round of Hesai with joint light speed, and the middle and low-end product pandarqt of Hesai development with a price of US $4999;
5. Suteng juchuang has released the first MEMS smart solid-state laser radar rs-lidar-m1smart, and a week ago, it launched the presale of rs-lidar-m1simple, a solid-state laser radar priced at 1898 US dollars;
Of course, more lidar manufacturers have released ambitious product plans, which are not listed here. From the above events, we can see three obvious trends:
1. Lidar to vehicle gauge level;
2. The price war of lidar is on;
3. China’s lidar company is on the rise.
Velodyne has been developing laser radar since 2005, and launched the first 64 line product in 2007. In 2010, Waymo, the predecessor of Google X laboratory, was the first test of the automatic driving vehicle. The lidar used was Velodyne’s product.
Lidar, which has been a necessary sensor for L4 level autopilot ever since, has some start-ups trying to solve problems through computer vision, but so far there are no successful cases. Tesla claims that autopilot can drive automatically, but so far, at best, it’s L2 +, and L3 hasn’t.
Automatic driving, from L2 to L3, needs to overcome a huge difficulty, because this is a transformation from human supervision of automobile driving to machine supervision of automatic driving. In L3 level automatic driving, the responsibility of driving will be borne by the machine. However, L3 to L4 are only rich scenarios of automatic driving, which do not involve the ownership of driving responsibilities stipulated by law.
There is no doubt that as the necessary sensor of L4 level automatic driving, the high price of lidar restricts the realization and mass production of automatic driving. Of course, it also includes performance factors, stability and reliability. A self driving vehicle equipped with several lidars, its cost is not acceptable for mass production vehicles, naturally far from mass production.
However, with the entrance of Bosch, Huawei, Dajiang and other giants, the lidar will be pushed to a lower price and vehicle specification level. It can be predicted that it will accelerate the development of automatic driving. However, these lidar manufacturers will also experience a fierce price war. How to deal with it?
02 price war
In terms of the price of products released at present, the price war has become very obvious, especially the evolution of lidar from mechanical to MEMS and solid-state, and it has also entered the inevitable path of hardware products – price war.
However, it is not that the lower the price is, the larger the market share will be. In addition to the mass production price, the safety, stability and reliability that need to be considered for the application of lidar in automobiles also need to be considered, that is to say, to meet the stringent requirements of vehicle regulations.
Bosch announced that its first long-distance lidar sensor (optical detection and ranging) applicable to vehicle specifications has entered the stage of mass production and development, which is the attitude towards lidar as a first-class supplier giant in the global automobile industry: mass production + vehicle specifications. This is also a consideration for all players who want to get a piece of the car lidar market.
It can be expected that Bosch will take the lead in mass production in Europe, and will give priority to meeting the automotive needs of Daimler, which is closely related to Bosch. As for the Chinese market, it may be mass produced by itself or developed with partners, such as the newly invested hexai.
As for Dajiang, the player who has gained the dominant position in the consumer UAV, makes use of his accumulation in the UAV, through the acquisition of the brand livox, makes a strong march into the field of lidar, and puts the characteristics of price advantage when entering the arena. However, can consumer electronics players adapt to the stringent requirements of vehicle regulations?
In addition, the price war of 2C is not necessarily effective in 2B market such as lidar. This is what Dajiang needs to consider. From the perspective of the user’s experience, the product price of Dajiang has advantages, but the performance, stability and reliability are more concerned by the user, especially the safety that the automatic driving players are pursuing now. After all, there is still a long way to go before mass production.
For Hesai and Suteng, the two leading start-ups of lidar in China, Hesai has gained a huge market share in the field of vehicle lidar, while Suteng has made achievements in the field of robotics and started to turn to vehicle specification level. After CES 2020, the trend of lidar industry is what these two companies should pay close attention to.
For the development of the company, Hesai and Suteng have already met the conditions for the development of science and technology innovation board, as well as the news of the industry. It’s worth noticing that velodyne was once reported to IPO in the United States for $1.8 billion in 2019, but it didn’t happen in the end, and it may be difficult to have an opportunity in the future.
After CES 2020, the lidar industry, with the participation of Bosch, Dajiang, Huawei, Hesai, Suteng and other players, will present a price war and move towards the road of car rules. In this process, the market competition is also unprecedented zero sum game.
However, for the auto driving industry, this is very worthy of expectation. Only when the price of lidar drops to the level of $100 – $1000, can it really move towards mass production. The reason why Tesla autopilot can’t get on the lidar is not that musk doesn’t think it’s necessary, but the cost of mass production is not allowed. Once the lidar reaches the level of $100 and meets the vehicle specification, will musk not use it on Tesla?