Innoviz, Expulsion raise millions for self-driving lidar sensors

(Reuters) – Self-driving-technology continues to attract robust investment, as two tech startups, one in San Francisco and in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, said this week they have raised nearly $200 million to aid in the development and production of laser sensors for automated vehicles.

FILE PHOTO: The lidar sensor is to see a self driving Volvo, bought by Uber, Phoenix, Arizona, USA, December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Natalie Behring

Israeli startup Innoviz Technologies said on Tuesday, raised $132 million, taking the total funding to $214 million, more than the money raised by the sector leaders Velodyne and Quanergy, each to the value of approximately $2 billion. Innoviz not a valuation figure.

San Francisco-based Expulsion, whose founders include a former Quanergy executive, said on Monday it raised $60 million, boosting the total funding of $87 million.

Innoviz and Expulsion from the competition in a crowded field of more than 50 lidar startups compete to supply vehicle manufacturers and their main suppliers with the sensors.

An essential component of the self controlling systems, laser sensors use laser light pulses to measure distances, and create an accurate images of the environment around the car.

More than $1 billion in corporate-and private investment has been ploughed into the sector over the past three years, including a record $420 million in 2018, according to a Reuters analysis of publicly available investment data.

Car manufacturers and large suppliers have begun to place bets on different lidar startups and competing technologies. Eventually, analysts expect the lidar sector, will be squeezed to five or six major players, but most likely not until after 2025.

In the meantime, Innoviz continues to muscle its way into the forefront of the lidar providers. Founded in 2016, the company has a contract with BMW for the supply of its first self-driving vehicles in 2021.

Innoviz has financial support from the japanese SoftBank Group Corp, as well as the auto suppliers Aptiv Plc, Magna International Inc. and Samsung Group. The most recent funding comes from a number of major investors in China and Israel.

Also founded in 2016, the Expulsion of the increased and more money from a number of the original investors, including Cox Automotive and Fontinalis ners, which is co-owned by Ford Motor Co Chairman Bill Ford. The new investors include Silicon Valley Bank.

Expulsion is denied to the name of the specific self-driving partners, and said: it is not directed sensor work solely on vehicles, but instead is the sale to customers in a variety of industries, including drones, and defense.

Expulsion said it plans to start producing “a few thousand” sensors a month later this year in San Francisco facility.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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