GM buys sensor-tech startup

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General Motors, the biggest automaker in the United States, said on Monday it had bought a startup focusing on sensor technology that helps self-driving cars identify objects, a move aiming at speeding up the development of self-driving cars.

Strobe, a three-year-old startup based in Pasadena, California, will work with GM's Cruise Automation unit, and deploy its LiDAR system, a device that sends a laser and measures the distance by receiving the reflected pluses, on GM's self-driving cars.

"This acquisition is a game changer for GM and Cruise because of the cost saving it will bring," Kyle Vogt, chief executive of Cruise, said after the announcement.

"The LiDAR on the market now are too costly for a commercial product," he said, adding that Strobe' s system would reduce the cost of each LiDAR on self-driving cars by 99 percent.

Cruise is testing autonomous electric Chevrolet Bolt cars in San Francisco. GM and its rival Ford both said they would begin to sell self-driving cars by 2021.

U.S. House lawmakers passed a bill in September to speed up introduction of self-driving cars by removing regulatory barriers.

The bill allows automakers to obtain exemptions from the current safety standards to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles in the first year. The exemptions eventually could cover up to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

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