Helsinki-Bangalore, Alex Tillander, ACES-M14 Intelligence - The year 2020 will be considered revolutionary for the ADAS and autonomous vehicles industry as Waymo One, ApolloGo, and AutoX RoboTaxi services have made open for public since late-2020, while others will follow soon. People are getting a true taste of self-driving vehicles which will help in gaining consumer confidence over the autonomous vehicle technology. The real question is how soon we can see mass deployment of such vehicles. Certainly, perception technologies are the key to achieve full autonomy, among which LiDAR holds a crucial place. However, the biggest concerns today with LiDAR sensors is its expensive price tag and the need to blend these sensors along with the aesthetics of a vehicle. No doubt LiDAR stands as an important part of the sensor suite within an autonomous vehicle, however the integration of LiDAR in ADAS sensor suite or safety solutions is now a bigger goal that the industry is trying to achieve.
One important analysis from M14 Intelligence research on the ADAS and autonomous vehicle technologies shows that the industry is almost all the leading OEMs, Tier 1s, and autonomous vehicle solutions provider are considering LiDAR as an integral part of its sensor suite, excluding few exceptions such as Tesla. Besides, big giants including OEMs, Tier-1s, and venture capitalist firms are pouring ample investments in LiDAR start-ups. The industry has recorded billions of dollars funding in start-ups in just past 3 years. Blackmore, Princeton Lightwave, Strobe, and Phantom Intelligence were few of the well-known LiDAR start-ups that have been acquired by autonomous technology players in the recent past. Also, the industry has recorded more than 30 strategic partnerships and collaborations with the LiDAR manufacturers for self-driving technology development since Jan 2019. This aggression in the industry clearly justifies that LiDAR is not a fool’s errand. Below is the list of such impressive developments.
Investment in 2019
The total of ~$450 million was invested in 9 LiDAR start-ups, in 2019. Baraja, Ouster, Aeye, Innoviz Technologies, Sense Photonics, Luminar Technologies, Velodyne LiDAR, Aeva, and Seoul Robotics Ltd are the companies that received funding for development and advancement of their respective LiDAR technologies. Amongst these, the Israeli start-up Innoviz Technologies has raised highest amount of $170 million in its Series C funding, followed by Luminar Technologies with $100 million.
Investment in 2020
Amidst of Covid-19 breakdown in the world, the industry has witnessed consistent investments in autonomous driving technology. More than $460 million has been invested just in the automotive-grade LiDAR technology from Jan to Oct 2020. The highest single investment ever made in the LiDAR technology was made in Hesai Technology in the month of January. Robert Bosch GmBH and Lightspeed, ON Semiconductor, Qiming Venture Partners, DT Capital Partners, and Axiom Asia Private Capital together invested $173 million in the Series C funding round of Hesai Technology. On 24th of August, Luminar Technologies announced the plans to go public by reverse merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc. $170 million in investment was received to accelerate commercial development of its full stack of vehicle technology. Ford Motor Co. has acquired 7.6% stakes equivalent to $227.2 million in Velodyne which got public listed earlier in August this year. Other companies that received funding in 2020 were Cepton Technologies Inc., SiLC Technologies Inc., Blickfield, Zvision, SOS Lab Co., and Ouster.
Though the industry is highly volatile, the self-driving vehicle deployment is not a distant future and LiDAR technology certainly holds significant potential. Clearly, these kind of developments will unquestionably boost the LiDAR manufacturers to ramp up their mass production capability by consequently offering LiDAR at an affordable price.