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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

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.

Dave Lawler, author of World
59 mins ago - World

Biden's Russia challenge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Biden administration has already proposed a five-year extension of the last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, announced an urgent investigation into a massive Russia-linked cyberattack, and demanded the release of Russia’s leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny.

Why it matters: Those three steps in Biden's first week underscore the challenge he faces from Vladimir Putin — an authoritarian intent on weakening the U.S. and its alliances, with whom he’ll nonetheless have to engage on critical issues.

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