PLEASANTON – AEye, a developer of artificial perception systems and iDAR for self-driving vehicles, announced $40 million in Series B funding led by Taiwania Capital, a venture fund sponsored by the government of Taiwan. The round was significantly oversubscribed and existing investors Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, Airbus Ventures and Tychee Partners also participated.
AEye now has total funding of over $61 million. The funds will be used to scale AEye’s operations to meet global demand for the company’s artificial perception systems for autonomous vehicles.
The company also announced a major breakthrough in long-range threat detection and safety. In performance specification tests monitored and validated by VSI Labs, one of the nation’s leading automated vehicle technology advisors, AEye’s iDAR system detected and tracked a truck at 1,000 meters, or one kilometer – four to five times the distance current LiDAR systems are able to detect. AEye’s test sets a new benchmark for solid-state LiDAR range, and comes one month after AEye announced a 100Hz scan rate – setting a new speed record for the industry.
Using AEye’s standard iDAR sensor, the company set up a formal test, monitored by VSI Labs, the leading research and development resource for active safety and automated vehicle technologies. The test was structured to establish and verify the range and scan rates of the iDAR system.
The test was conducted on the runway of an airport in Byron, California in order to isolate targets to better measure and calibrate iDAR’s performance. To test range, a standard 20-foot moving truck was tracked and continuously scanned down the length of the 914 meter runway. At the end of the runway, the iDAR system was fully able to continuously detect, and track the movements of the vehicle as well as detect runway signs and markers en route. The AEye sensor vehicle was then taken off the runway to extend the available test range to over 1000m, where iDAR continued to track the truck without difficulty.
“The test conducted by AEye delivered impressive results,” said Sara Sargent, senior engineer at VSI Labs. “We monitored the performance and the truck was clearly identifiable and visible at 1 kilometer. We were also able to verify that AEye’s iDAR system achieves scan rates of 100Hz and that the fusion of the camera and LiDAR in the iDAR sensor produces accurate true color real-time point clouds in the form of Dynamic Vixels. This is an outstanding achievement that demonstrates the true potential of perception systems to reliably and accurately detect and track objects at great range.”
AEye’s iDAR is an intelligent artificial perception system that physically fuses an agile, solid-state LiDAR with a hi-res camera to create a new data type called Dynamic Vixels. These Dynamic Vixels are the result of real-time integration of iDAR’s Agile LiDAR and a low-light camera in the IDAR sensor, not post fusion of a separate camera and LiDAR system after the scan. By capturing x, y, z, r, g, b data, Dynamic Vixels are uniquely created to “biomimic” the data structure of the human visual cortex.