Blackmore Sensors and Analytics has raised $3.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Next Frontier Capital and Millennium Technology Value Partners.
Blackmore says it will use the funds to miniaturise its FMCW lidar engine and deliver affordable, high-performance lidar sensors to the automotive and surveillance markets. Industry analysts expect the annual lidar market to reach $10 billion by 2020, fueled, in large part, by the rapidly growing demand for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Commenting on the news, Sam Schwerin, managing partner at Millennium, said: “The Blackmore team has decades-long expertise in developing high sensitivity lidar technologies for the defense industry. This gives Blackmore an important advantage in evolving these technologies to the highest and most robust specifications. Unlike other startups in this field, Blackmore’s lidars are operable right now and are producing data that meet the exacting standards required by the autonomous vehicle industry.”
Blackmore’s HRS-3D surveillance lidar pairs long-range sensing capabilities with advanced algorithms to provide real-time mapping and situational awareness to its surveillance customers. The heart of this sensor, a state-of-the-art FMCW lidar engine, functions more like a modern radar system than the conventional pulsed laser 3D imaging technologies currently on the market.
Dr Randy Reibel, Blackmore’s CEO, explained more: “The biggest challenge for today’s lidar systems is that the primary components require labor intensive manufacturing processes. This keeps production costs high, preventing mass market adoption. This funding will enable Blackmore to begin manufacturing its lidar engine using semiconductor processes, enabling large quantities of sensors at the very low cost necessary to drive mass market applications. Blackmore’s current plan is to deliver prototype automotive lidar and deployable surveillance systems using our new lidar engine in mid-2017.”