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The future of lidar is uncertain unless, as Voyant hopes to do, its price and size are reduced to fractions of their current values. As long as lidars are sandwich-sized devices that cost thousands, they won’t be ubiquitous — so Voyant has raised some cash to bring its smaller, cheaper, more easily manufactured, yet still highly capable lidar to production.

When I wrote up the company’s seed round back in 2019, the goal was more or less to shrink lidar down from sandwich to fingernail size using silicon photonics. But the real challenge faced by nearly every lidar company is getting the price down. Between a strong laser, capable receptor and a mechanical or optical means of directing the beam, it just isn’t easy making something cheap enough that, like an LED or touchscreen, you can easily put several of them in a vehicle that costs less than $30,000.

CEO Peter Stern joined the company just as COVID was getting started, and they were looking for a way to turn a promising prototype developed by co-founders Chris Phare and Steven Miller into a working and marketable product. After going back to basics they ended up with a photonics-based frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) system (just go with it for now) that could be manufactured at existing commercial fabs.

True to CEO Elon Musk’s word, Tesla is expanding its presence in California despite the company officially moving its headquarters to Texas. And amidst this California expansion, Tesla has leased nine acres of land to support its operations in Lathrop — all for a very reasonable price of $1 per year.

As noted in a Manteca Bulletin report, Tesla has been deliberately expanding its footprint in Lathrop since the company came to the city in 2014. During that time, Tesla was hoping to convert an old Mopar distribution center into a manufacturing facility for car parts. Tesla has since expanded its activities in Lathrop, with the company building an 870,000 square foot warehouse in the city. More recently, Tesla also broke ground on an upcoming “Megafactory” for its flagship battery storage unit, the Megapack.

With Tesla poised to employ an estimated 1,500 people working in two shifts at the “Megafactory,” the need for a space where the facility’s employees could park their vehicles while at work arose. With this in mind, the Lathrop City Council voted unanimously last week to lease nine acres of city-owned land to the electric vehicle maker. Tesla is expected to pay for all improvements, infrastructure, and maintenance for the new land, but this would likely be no issue.

With affordability in its latest offering, Toyota wants to eliminate the only advantage that Chinese automobile makers enjoy: competitive prices.

Japan is a world leader in automobile technology. Apart from Germany, no one can compete in the automobile sector. And if you need any evidence to corroborate this fact, you need to look no further than Toyota, a globally loved automobile brand that has produced some of the best cars to date. And now Toyota is looking to aggressively dominate the Chinese electric vehicles (EV) market with some affordable cars from next year.

Toyota to launch an all-electric small sedan in China:

Toyota Motor Corp. has made plans to launch an impressive, all-electric small sedan in China late next year. It will turn to local partner BYD for key technology and create an affordable yet spacious EV for the Chinese market.

Swiss tech company ABB has unveiled a new EV charging station that can rapidly power four electric vehicles at once — which could help make annoying wait times at stations a thing of the past.

The challenge: It typically takes less than five minutes to fill up a car’s tank at a gas station, and gas stations are everywhere in the U.S.

Depending on an EV’s battery and the type of EV charging station, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours to fully charge the car, and because charging stations are far less common than gas stations, drivers regularly have to wait for ports to open up.