AV Start-Up Launching Fire, Senior Citizen Services

An autonomous vehicle start-up is to service an assisted living facility and fire departments in a Silicon Valley city.

Mountain View’s ThorDrive said it plans to use its AVs to “support select residents of Channing House (senior housing) and fire departments” across the neighboring city of Palo Alto. It is partnering with Hassett ACE Hardware for the pilot, with sensors to be provided by Velodyne LiDAR. The initiation of the services is to be marked by an event attended by Palo Alto mayor Liz Kniss, Velodyne LiDAR president Mike Jellen, and ThorDrive founder Seung-Woo Seo.

ThorDrive said it plans to launch additional pilot services soon. Seo claimed its AV tech would provide “a new way to provide value-added services in logistics processes”. He claimed Velodyne’s tech would “provide a crucial data set for sensor fusion in ThorDrive software”. Jellen added that by combining their tech, the two companies would “help determine the safest way to navigate and direct” AVs.

If the pilot is successful it could be a valuable public relations boost for Velodyne, whose sensors were widely criticized in March when they failed to detect a cyclist in Tempe, Arizona who was killed by an Uber AV in which they were deployed.


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