AEye, a California-based startup, has raised $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. This brings AEye’s total funding to date to about $61 million. The Series B was led by Taiwania Capital, the investment firm created and backed by Taiwan’s National Development Council. The round also includes multiple global automotive OEMs, Tier 1s, and Tier 2s to be announced at CES 2019. In addition to Taiwania Capital, existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, Airbus Ventures and Tychee Partners also participated.
AEye will use the funding to scale operations and demand of its Intelligent Detection and Ranging (iDAR) system. AEye claims iDAR can detect and track moving vehicles 1,000 meters (1 kilometer) away, which would be four to five times the distance current LiDAR systems are able to detect.
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“This funding marks an inflection point for AEye, as we scale our staff, partnerships and investments to align with our customers’ roadmap to commercialization,” said AEye founder and CEO Luis Dussan. “Our strategic relationship with Taiwania will serve as a gateway to Asia, with valuable manufacturing, logistics and technology resources that will accelerate our ability to address the needs of a global market.
“We intend to launch our next generation product at CES, which we believe will help OEMs and Tier 1s accelerate their products and services by delivering market leading performance at the lowest cost.”
AEye also claims it can produce scan rates of 100Hz that fuses data from a camera and LiDAR for true color, real-time point clouds. AEye claims this is a new form of data, which it has dubbed “Dynamic Vixels.”
“These Dynamic Vixels are the result of real-time integration of iDAR’s Agile LiDAR and a low-light camera in the IDAR sensor, not post fusion of a separate camera and LiDAR system after the scan. By capturing x, y, z, r, g, b data, Dynamic Vixels are uniquely created to “biomimic” the data structure of the human visual cortex,” AEye said. “Better data drives vastly superior performance and delivers more accurate information.”
“We now believe that with small adaptations, we can achieve range performance of 5km to 10km or more,” said AEye Chief of Staff Blair LaCorte. “These results have significant implications for the autonomous trucking and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) markets, where sensing distance needs to be as far as possible and potential threats identified as early as possible to achieve safe, reliable vehicle autonomy.”