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Velodyne's VLP-16 is now half price. (Image: Velodyne)

Velodyne said it will sell its workhorse Lidar sensor—used widely in autonomous car programs—for $4,000, half the previous price. The cut, which does not affect the company's high-end sensor, comes as the Lidar pioneer faces increasing competition.

Why it matters: The sensor—called the VLP-16—is the most popular Lidar system on the market. Robo-taxi startup Zoox uses multiple VLP-16s on its car, and Apple reportedly has installed at least six on its experimental vehicle. But competition is fierce—Ouster recently offered its high-end 64-channel Lidar model at $12,000, one-seventh the price of Velodyne's rival $85,000 system.

What's next: Advances are coming fast in the red-hot self-driving space as carmakers seek to launch vehicles into the market as fast as possible. Velodyne's aggressive pricing on the low end may be recognition that competition for 64-channel sales are likely to whither away as the industry moves to far more sophisticated 128-channel systems. Mike Jellen, president of Velodyne, tells Axios that the 128 will become the high-end standard, superseding the 64.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

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