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An early Strobe LiDAR prototype. Photo: Strobe / Cruise

General Motors' self-driving car unit Cruise has acquired Strobe, a startup developing LiDAR, which is one of the main sensors used by most self-driving car systems. No financial terms were disclosed, though 11 employees from the startup will be joining GM.

Why it matters: LiDAR—or light detection and ranging—is commonly used to function as a car's "eyes." It shoots laser beams all around and maps out the distance and shapes of the environment based on how fast the light bounces off objects. But while it's used by most self-driving car companies (with some exceptions like Tesla and Comma.ai), it's still relatively expensive. According to Cruise co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt, Strobe is able to cut the cost down by 99% because it "collapses LiDAR down into a single chip." Several others are working to bring down the cost of LiDAR sensors by improving its chips.

Go deeper

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

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