Startups Venture

VCs Spend Millions To Keep An Eye On The Road

While Apple’s self-driving technology efforts continue (mostly) in the shadows, two former employees are already putting new eyes on the road.

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As reported by The Verge, Aeva has just raised $45 million for its LIDAR technology, an essential piece of hardware used to see objects on the road for self-driving cars. The startup claims that its take on LIDAR is better than its competitors due to its small physical footprint, light energy use, and ability to process “velocity and motion of a pedestrian or object,” as told to The Verge by co-founder Soroush Salehian.

However, it’s not the only startup focusing on LIDAR that has raised significant sums of money. LIDAR-centric startups have attracted over $500 million in venture funding since 2011. A large chunk of that funding has gone to Velodyne LiDar, which raised $150 million in 2016 in one known corporate round.

However, according to Crunchbase data, Aeva’s latest round is the largest deal documented in the LIDAR sector this year, making up over 50 percent of total dollars invested into the space since the start of 2018. The round also puts LIDAR startups funded in 2018, in terms of known total dollars, on pace to match 2017’s dollar volume of $136 million.

In general, VCs are putting a lot of money into seeing the road accurately with improvements in software, hardware, and artificial intelligence. With a $45 million check, Aeva can consider itself a valid contender. But it’s far from being a winner, even with its talent.

Leaving Apple means leaving Apple’s titanic wealth. That puts the founders of Aeva at a financial disadvantage, as its private investors cannot hope to match Cupertino’s wealth. However, smaller startups can be more nimble than giants, sometimes even at so-called frontier tech.

This is a great race to watch.

Top Image Credit: Li-Anne Dias.

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