SAN FRANCISCO & SHANGHAI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Innovusion, a leading developer of LiDAR technology for the autonomous vehicle markets, today announced it has raised about US $30 million in Series A funding, co-led by NIO Capital and Eight Roads Ventures in China, and F-Prime Capital in the U.S., in addition to seed round from Gaorong Capital and other strategic investors. On the heels of the funding, the company’s LiDAR system, the Innovusion Cheetah, is now available for ordering by customers worldwide. Innovusion Cheetah is the world’s first image-grade LiDAR system to support level 4+* (fully autonomous under certain operating conditions) autonomous driving solutions.
With the autonomous vehicle market expected to reach US$80 billion by 2035, LiDAR -- the sensor technology that allows self-driving cars to efficiently detect and measure the objects on the road around them -- is essential for reliable, safe Level 4+ autonomous vehicles. Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR detects objects more than 200 meters away and generates an exceptionally dense point cloud (300 lines), more than double of that of other providers in the space, while maintaining a high frame rate and achieving low-cost in high-volume production. Innovusion is ramping production to meet worldwide demand starting in Q4 2018.
“LiDAR technology is critical to accelerating the adoption and deployment of autonomous vehicles, and we look forward to working with providers and manufacturers to ensure their solutions are supported with the best-in-class technology for superior range and resolution,” says Junwei Bao, co-founder and CEO of Innovusion. “This round of funding will allow us to expand our R&D team and manufacturing facilities to more quickly develop, market and deliver Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR to customers around the world, helping drive innovative perception solutions in autonomous vehicles.”
Innovusion was founded in November 2016 and began shipping samples of Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR in the second quarter of 2018. Comprised of experts in various disciplines essential for LiDAR technology, Innovusion has proven its technology in the two leading markets for autonomous vehicles: the U.S. and China. Innovusion Cheetah is the first LiDAR technology to feature the unique combination of image-grade resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio required for long-distance detection.
“LiDAR is a key component for autonomous driving, especially high performance LiDAR. Cheetah is one of the most advanced LiDAR sensors we have seen in the market,” said Ian Zhu, managing partner at NIO Capital. “When looking at the robo-taxi market and the amount of testing needed, we see a strong immediate need for high performance LiDAR sensors. As for the OEM market, we see automakers putting more and more efforts on testing and integrating sensors for autonomous driving with more strict requirements related to cost, auto-gradability as well as performance. We strongly believe Innovusion will lead and greatly benefit from these booming markets.”
Eight Roads is very optimistic about the future of autonomous vehicles. “We believe AV is a game-changer for the future of mobility and look forward to supporting the development of the entire ecosystem,” said Ted Chua, Partner of Eight Roads Ventures China. “Innovusion’s technologies has taken the bar for high-performance LiDARs to the next level, and we are honored to have the opportunity to back and work with such an outstanding team.”
“Building technology for autonomous vehicles requires a deep understanding across many capabilities, as well as real-world experience, given the safety and reliability demands of the space,” said Sanjay Aggarwal, venture partner at F-Prime Capital. “We believe investing in startups that specialize in specific aspects of AV infrastructure – such as Innovusion – will accelerate the growth of the market. Innovusion has the combined experience and technology to make a major impact and we look forward to partnering with them as autonomous vehicles continue to push toward mainstream usage.”
*A classification system based on six different levels (ranging from fully manual to fully automated systems) was published in 2014 bySociety of Automotive Engineers international (SAE),an automotive standardization body.