Investment Memos
October 1, 2016
Reilly Brennan

Software configurable LiDAR driving the future of safe autonomy (Why we invested in AEye)

AEye develops advanced vision hardware, software and algorithms that act as the eyes and visual cortex of autonomous vehicles. Their advanced vision systems leverage computer vision and solid state MEMS-based LiDAR together with compressive sensing algorithms and deep learning software to enable the safest and most reliable full system solution for autonomous and ADAS vehicles.

AEye is doing breakthrough work in depth sensing and was one of the most innovative companies we saw in 2016. The company was founded by Luis Dussan, a former sensor engineer at Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

AEye is focused on developing what it describes as ‘compressive sensing,’ meaning the efficient use of laser ranging as opposed to simply wanting to range everything within the field of view of the system. This MEMS-based transmitter is very efficient for data capture and also helps the secondary processing costs.

AEye is also building a software image processing layer that, unlike other LiDAR, allows their sensors to not just detect objects, but perceive them. AEye’s iDAR (Intelligent Detection and Ranging) platform allows for perception algorithms to be deployed at the edge, meaning that basic perception tasks can now be distributed to the edge of a sensor network. This enables real-time data collection, processing, and reduces sensor latency.

With it's iDAR software, AEye can also adapt the sensor in real time for different scenarios (highway, urban, etc.). Unlike conventional LiDAR, AEye uses a bi-static architecture that separates the transmit and receive channels. This allows for the receiver to be told where to look for a transmitted signal's return, which ultimately enables their sensor to be adaptive and focus on what's most important in a scene.

Our investment was made in conjunction with Airbus Ventures and GM Ventures. We look forward to helping the AEye team in the coming years as they build their business.

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