Aurora, the autonomous vehicle company that recently completed the acquisition of Uber’s self-driving subsidiary, has created another startup.
This time, Aurora is buying OURS Technology, the second lidar startup it acquired in less than two years. Aurora acquired Blackmore, a Montana-based lidar startup, in May 2019. Aurora declined to disclose the purchase price or other financial terms of the deal. OURS Technology was founded in 2017 by a team of researchers and PhD students from the University of California-Berkeley and employs 12 people. The entire team is on their way to Aurora, according to the company.
“We’re always looking to make progress as quickly as possible OURExperience in development Lidar Chips expand our existing know-how and accelerate our work, ”said an Aurora spokesman.
Lidar or Light detection and range radaris considered by most companies developing autonomous driving systems A critical and necessary sensor to safely use self-driving vehicles on a scale. A future in which millions of self-driving vehicles drive through cities is still years – even decades, as some argue – away. However, that hasn’t stopped dozens of lidar companies from starting, each aiming to capitalize on this potential demand.
The vast majority of the roughly 70 companies that exist in the industry today are developing and trying to sell time-of-flight lidar sensors that emit light pulses outside of the visible spectrum and then measure how long it takes for each of those companies to return pulses. When they come back, the direction and distance to the pulses that hit them are recorded as a point, eventually forming a 3D map.
Some lidar companies, including Blackmore and OURS Technology, are pursuing Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) lidar, which emits a low power, continuous wave or flux of light. FMCW lidar developers tout two main advantages of this technology. It can measure distances with a higher dynamic range and higher instantaneous speed, which means it can measure the speed of objects coming towards them or moving away from them. It doesn’t fight either Interference from the sun or other sensors.
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But FMCW is also complex. FMCW starts as a rangefinder on a chip. To make it a 3D lidar, many FMCW developers use large mirrors and other components to provide the field of view, which increases the size of the sensors. OURS Technology claims to be a lidar-on-a-chip company, suggesting that this four-year-old company developed a way to combine everything into one solid-state scanning mechanism. This would allow the sensor to get smaller, which would solve one of the main problems with FMCW.
Aurora unveiled its FirstLight Lidar last summer, a sensor based on Blackmore’s technology developed for its fleet of self-driving vehicles, namely long-haul trucks. Aurora is clearly interested in the speed of development of OURS and states in its announcement that the startup was able to produce four generations of Lidar in just three years and developed a solid-state scanning mechanism compatible with its technology.
The company plans to use the startup’s expertise and development expertise to make its sensor scalable. In a nutshell, Aurora hopes to use the OURS team and their blueprint for key elements like the solid-state scanning mechanism and development process to speed development.
“Now that we are expanding our fleet and commercializing our driverless trucks, FirstLight Lidar has to be increasingly scalable – it has to be smaller and cheaper, but just as powerful,” the company said.