Tuesday, February 11, 2020

LiDAR News: Cepton, Koito, Robosense, Velodyne

BusinessWire: Cepton has raised over $50M in Series C funding. This brings Cepton’s total funding to nearly $100M. The latest funding round was led by Koito, the Tier 1 provider of automotive lighting systems, with an investment of $50M. Existing investors in Cepton also participated in this round. As part of the transaction, Koito will obtain non-exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Cepton’s lidar sensor design for an automotive application, using key components supplied by Cepton.

With this latest investment round, the year 2020 is poised to be truly transformational for Cepton’s future, and we are excited to welcome Koito not just as an investor but also as a technology and manufacturing partner. Combining Koito’s world leadership in automotive lighting and their world-class quality, reliability and manufacturing with Cepton’s award-winning lidar solutions presents a tremendous opportunity to make deep inroads into the automotive market,” says Jun Pei, co-founder and CEO of Cepton.

BusinessWire: RoboSense has obtained the IATF 16949 certificate in the automotive field, which now fully qualifies it to supply to automotive customers. RoboSense’s LiDAR production line obtained the IATF 16949 Letter of Conformity in December, which has accelerated partnerships of automotive-grade LiDAR serial productions with major OEMs and Tier 1s.

LeiLei Shinohara, the Co-partner and VP of RoboSense, said, "IATF16949 requires extremely high production consistency, and emphasizes various product reliability metrics. It recognizes the RoboSense design, research and development, and production processes. It also indicates that RoboSense has achieved a new milestone of complete readiness for serial mass production of automotive LiDARs, including the latest solid-state smart LiDAR RS-LiDAR-M1.

BusinessWire: Velodyne announces Mathew Rekow as its new CTO. Rekow assumes the CTO role following Anand Gopalan, who was recently named Velodyne’s CEO. Rekow was previously a Senior Director of Optical Engineering at Velodyne.

ArsTechnica posts an article "How lidar makers are coping with slow progress of self-driving tech" by Timothy Lee. Few quotes:

"At least one segment of the market—custom robots for warehouses, mines, and other industrial sites—is starting to buy lidar sensors in significant volume. Another segment—low-end lidars used in car driver-assistance systems—is poised to become a big market in the next couple of years.

In the next few years, we're going to see a number of carmakers make their first bulk lidar purchases—buying thousands of low-cost lidar sensors to improve their advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Experts believe lidar for the ADAS market needs to cost less than $500 for the economics to work. But if lidar companies can hit the right price level, the potential market is huge. By the middle of the decade, carmakers could be selling millions of lidar-equipped cars.

But the expected full-autonomy breakthroughs have been slow in coming. Companies that had aimed to launch self-driving taxi services in 2019, 2020, or 2021 have been forced to revise their timelines. And that has created a headache for lidar companies that were aiming to supply lidar sensors for fully autonomous vehicles.

Velodyne also faces competition from some Chinese companies that Velodyne dismisses as copycat vendors. Like Ouster, these companies offer Velodyne-like sensors at low prices. But Velodyne says that unlike Ouster, these companies simply copied Velodyne's design. Indeed, Velodyne sued two of those vendors—RoboSense and Hesai—for patent infringement last August.

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