Sunday, March 03, 2019

Why Velodyne LiDARs are Expensive

Silicon Valley Business Journal publishes few photos from Velodyne manufacturing line showing quite complex and labor intensive calibration procedures. The rumor is that the high-end Velodyne LiDARs require about 90 hours of calibration and alignment during and after the assembly. Assuming a technician labor cost of about $50 per hour (am I correct? is this a typical number for Silicon Valley?), it sets a floor for the unit price at about $4,500.

However, it appears that Velodyne CEO disagrees with me:

Velodyne "opened its San Jose "megafactory" in 2017 and now employs about 400 there. Founder David Hall said he plans to make his products there for the foreseeable future.

"Most of the cost of our lidars are in the parts themselves and not the labor to assemble them," he said. "San Jose has a large and available skilled labor force that, while not price competitive with anywhere in Asia, does a higher quality job than we would get by assembling the units elsewhere."

Velodyne LiDAR puck is mounted on robotic arm for testing
Velodyne employees work on laser and detector alignment
for VLS-128 LiDARs
Optical and mechanical accuracy checks for every components

Update: Silicon Valley Business Journal publishes another article about Velodyne "Velodyne LiDAR, the inventor: ‘We aren’t a one-trick pony’" - can be seen on mobile phone.

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