The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max LiDAR camera is introduced.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Two companies that make lidar sensors saw their inventories spike Monday, according to Reuters reported Apple’s goal is to start producing an Apple-branded car for consumers as early as 2024.
Velodyne stock rose nearly 23% on Monday. Luminar rose over 27%.
Lidar is a core component for self-driving cars that allows their computers to capture a 3D image of the world around them. The sensors measure the range or speed of objects using a radar-like process. They reflect lasers from objects. When the light returns, the sensors can calculate how far away the object is and whether it is moving.
Self-driving car companies like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise are making heavy use of lidar in their self-driving systems. According to the report, Apple has decided to use outside partners for parts of its self-propelled system, including lidar sensors.
However, the report does not identify potential lidar suppliers for Apple, and it also notes that Apple may decide to use lidar sensors it has developed instead. Newer iPhones and iPads have an Apple-designed lidar sensor in their camera modules, although that sensor would likely need to be modified for use in a vehicle.
Apple declined to comment on the report.
Apple tested self-driving cars in California with a safety driver behind the wheel who can take control. An early version of these vehicles had visible lidar sensors mounted on top, however a subsequent version The sensors were hidden in a housing on California’s streets. Apple also operates a fleet of vehicles that capture street images for Apple Maps, and so are these cars also equipped with lidar sensors.
A recent wave of excitement over electric and self-driving cars has propelled stock prices in the industry higher. Tesla’s stock is up 655% since trading closed on Monday.
Lidar companies have benefited from investor excitement.
Velodyne went public through a SPAC in September. At that time, the company recorded a net loss of $ 67.2 million on 2019 revenue of $ 101.4 million. In November it said Last quarter, 2,235 sensor units were sold for an average retail price of $ 5,600.
Luminar went public via a SPAC earlier this month and has since grown by over 172%. It’s a smaller company focused on developing technology lost $ 94.7 million on revenue of $ 12.6 million in 2019.