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Lidar stocks soar after report that Apple is working on a car for 2024

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max LiDAR camera is open.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Two companies that make lidar sensors saw their stocks hover on Monday after Reuters reported on hat Apple is aiming to start production of an Apple-branded car for consumers as soon as 2024.

Velodyne supply rose nearly 23% on Monday. Luminar rose over 27%.

Lidar is a core component for self-driving cars that owns their computers to take a 3D image of the world around them. The sensors measure the range or velocity of objects putting a process that is similar to radar — they bounce lasers off objects and when the light returns, the sensors can assess how far away the object is and if it’s moving.

Self-driving car companies like Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise make heavy use of lidar in their self-driving routines. Apple has decided to use outside partners for parts of its self-driving system, including lidar sensors, according to the report.

Manner, the report does not name any prospective lidar suppliers to Apple, and also also notes that Apple could as a substitute for decide to use lidar sensors that it designed. Newer iPhones and iPads come with an Apple-designed lidar sensor in their camera modules, although this sensor would no doubt have to be modified for use on a vehicle.

Apple declined to comment on the report.

Apple has tested self-driving cars in California with a cover driver behind the wheel who can take over. An early version of those vehicles had visible lidar sensors mounted on the top, but a consequent after version spotted on California streets hid the sensors inside a casing. Apple also runs a fleet of vehicles that seize street-level imagery for Apple Maps, and those cars are also equipped with lidar sensors.

A recent wavelet of excitement around electric and self-driving cars has driven up stock prices in the sector. Tesla’s stock is up 655% year-to-date, as of Monday’s stale.

Lidar companies have benefited from investor excitement.

Velodyne went public through a SPAC in September. At the measure, it said it recorded a net loss of $67.2 million on revenue of $101.4 million in 2019. In November, it said it sold 2,235 sensor elements in the most recent quarter, at an average selling price of $5,600.

Luminar went public through a SPAC earlier this month, and it’s up in 172% since then. It’s a smaller company focused on developing technology, and lost $94.7 million in 2019 on gross income of $12.6 million.

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