Small Sum, Big Ambitions: Lunewave Raises $5M To Improve Car Sensors

Self-driving car sensor startup Lunewave has raised $5 million in seed funding from BMW i Ventures, Baidu Ventures, Fraser McCombs Capital, and others. Texas-based Fraser McCombs—a venture and growth equity investment firm focused on automotive technology—led the round.

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In early 2017, Lunewave raised a pre-seed round of about $500,000 from the National Science Foundation’s SBIR/STTR Phase I and URBAN-X, an accelerator backed by MINI & Urban Us.

Tucson, Ariz.-based Lunewave plans to use the new capital to develop its radar and antenna technologies. The company manufactures specialized lens, antennas, and radar sensors that can act as the “eyes” of self-driving cars, even at long range and in poor weather. Lunewave claims that its technology offers automakers a low-cost, powerful alternative to more conventional sensor systems. Lunewave also believes that because the technology is “highly customizable” it can have applications in aerospace and wireless telecommunications.

The startup currently has 10 employees and is looking to expand to about 15 by the fourth quarter, according to CEO and Co-Founder John Xin. It’s specifically looking to expand its product development team and accelerate R&D efforts for its automotive sensor product.

Lunewave is an alumni company of URBAN-X, a MINI-backed accelerator for startups “reimagining city life,” and and Plug and Play’s Mobility Innovation Platform. It’s also the first company to work with BMW’s Startup Garage program and receive investment from BMW i Ventures.

When asked if its investors would take issue with its technology being used in other automakers’ vehicles, Xin told Crunchbase News via email that all of its investors are “very supportive of Lunewave working with other automotive manufacturers to bring this exciting technology to the industry. At the moment, Lunewave is excited to continue exploring business opportunities with several global automotive players.”

In particular, he said Lunewave is working to create “meaningful” strategic partnerships to continue defining future products and to prepare for mass production.

“Lunewave has demonstrated the power of their product and their ability to innovate in the autonomous vehicle space in a way that offers significant value to global OEMs,” said Micah Kotch, Managing Director of URBAN-X, in a written statement.

Mark Norman, managing partner at FMC, will join Lunewave’s board of directors.

“We believe Lunewave is building a game-changing radar to transform automotive sensing for ADAS and autonomous applications in all weather conditions,” said Norman in a written statement.

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