David Hall a tech entrepreneur from San Francisco, is as responsible as anyone for ushering in the self-driving-car revolution. Hall, 66, is the CEO of Velodyne – leading maker of LiDAR sensors, the “eyes” that allow autonomous vehicles to see what’s around them. Hall who refers to himself as an introvert, operates from a barn sized industrial shed along with his team who are currently perfecting on a “patented technology, that keeps boats steady in the roughest waters.”
About a decade ago in 2006, Hall patented one of his inventions–a multi-beam spinning LiDAR sensor–that put Velodyne, albeit almost accidentally, at the center of a revolution that’s disrupting the auto and tech industries today. Over a couple of years, Hall refined a roof-mounted LiDAR (for “light distance and ranging”) unit consisting of 64 lasers spun by a small electric motor; the device became a favorite of the race’s winning teams. “It was revolutionary,” says William “Red” Whittaker, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University and a father of the autonomous-vehicle movement.