Israeli Autonomous Vehicle Startup Gets Series A Funding $9 million
For autonomous vehicles to function, they need to be able to react to changes in their surrounding environment. That’s where a sophisticated high definition solid-state LiDAR (laser sensor system) comes into play, and why Israel-based Innoviz Technologies announced Monday it had secured a $9 million Series A investment led by Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital. Other investors included Zohar Zisapel, Amiti Ventures and Delek Investments.
Innoviz is building LiDAR sensing systems, which are often used by satellites to measure distance and terrain. What Innoviz and some other companies are betting on is not only the growth of the autonomous vehicle market, but the inevitable reliance of such systems on LiDAR. Their main product, High Definition Solid State LiDAR (HD-SSL), won’t debut until December. They are claiming it will have a wider field of view than the current standard, “higher resolution in both axis and long range sensing,” and be cheaper at a cost coming in under $100.
Depending on the design, a self-driving car might need just one or two LiDARs, while some high-end models might use seven or eight. The higher number though seems less important if they can drop the cost to what they project. The major issue, however, is safety.
Elon Musk has said he doesn’t think LiDAR is necessary, telling the press that, “I think you can do this all with passive optical and then with maybe one forward RADAR… if you are driving fast into rain or snow or dust. I think that completely solves it without the use of LIDAR.”
But Innoviz’s argument is now boosted thanks to the first reported fatality in a Tesla on Autopilot at the end of June. Tesla released an initial investigative conclusion that neither the driver, nor the autopilot system, was able to distinguish the white facade of a tractor trailer against the brightly lit daytime sky. Google by contrast does use LiDAR in their cars, showing that there is some diversity of thought among the big players in this space.
There are a number of players in the industry, including Autonomous Solutions and Velodyne, that are working on LiDAR solutions for autonomous vehicles.