Friday, May 24, 2019

Aurora Buys Blackmore

Techcrunch, Wired, Forbes-1, Forbes-2: Aurora, an AI self-driving startup that recently raised $530M in Round B, acquires Montana-based 10 year-old FMCW Doppler LiDAR developer Blackmore. The 70 Blackmore employees will join the 250 Aurora's engineers and technicians. So far, Blackmore has raises $21.5M in tow financing rounds.

We're really the pioneers in FM lidar,” Blackmore founder and CEO Randy Reibel says. “The easiest analogy is AM radio versus FM radio. If you think back to the days of broadcast radio, AM radio has a lot of interference. It’s staticky. When you work with an FM lidar system, or an FM radio, you don’t have that interference. That’s a huge deal in this space, especially from a safety perspective. … As we start to pack the roads with hundreds and hundreds of lidars in close proximity, they’re going to crosstalk. With an FM lidar, you don’t have any of those interference challenges.

That kind of consolidation will likely continue, Reibel predicted, in part because it’s challenging for LiDAR companies to “go it alone.” AV companies are particularly protective of their tech and opening the door to an outside LiDAR company takes convincing.

Aurora said it is not interested in manufacturing hardware, whether it’s cars or LiDARs. The company will work with automotive Tier 1 suppliers and other partners as it scales.

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