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Aeva Strikes LIDAR Supplier Agreement with Audi's AID

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【Summary】Leveraging a cuboid sensor and a robust low-wave signature, the startup’s LIDAR provides extended range at 300 meters and comes with efficient power requirements (under 100 watts).

Michael Cheng    Apr 22, 2019 10:12 AM PT
Aeva Strikes LIDAR Supplier Agreement with Audi's AID

Next-generation LIDAR startup Aeva is rapidly expanding its presence in the automotive sector. Founded in 2017, the company recently showcased a supplier agreement with Audi's driverless research subsidiary (Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH or AID) tasked with developing self-driving technology.

The deal could catapult Aeva's presence in the highly competitive LIDAR space, which it is currently cementing through partnerships with major auto manufacturers and players. For Audi's AID, the collaboration would enable the carmaker to get its hands on cutting-edge sensors that have distinct advantages over existing LIDAR devices available on the market today. The financial terms of the agreement were not revealed by the companies.

Supplier Agreement

According to a press release, the company will supply LIDAR sensors to Audi's e-tron fleets located in Munich, Germany. The automaker has plans to develop the fleet for mobility services in busy cities. With a rough timeline of three years, Aeva's LIDAR was specifically selected by Audi's AID, due to its ability to take velocity measurements in an accurate and real-time manner.

In the collaboration, engineers from the autonomous research group will evaluate the startup's LIDAR solutions. Prior to the announcement, Aeva participated in a rigorous validation process, spanning over 18 months, with Volkswagen (Audi's parent company).

"We believe that for a safe stack you must have all the outputs to make the right decision," said Soroush Salehian, Co-founder of the startup.

"What we provide is the ability to see what they couldn't see before and measure things directly."

Aeva has attracted several top-caliber investors. During a Series A funding round in 2018, the business raised $45 million. The financing event was led by New York-based venture capital firm Lux Capital and early-stage venture capital firm Canaan Partners.

Low-power, High Accuracy

Aeva's LIDAR offers a plethora of benefits that conventional LIDAR developers can't match. Leveraging a cuboid sensor and a robust low-wave signature, the startup's LIDAR provides extended range at 300 meters and comes with low power requirements (under 100 watts). Moreover, it is less prone to errors when exposed to rough weather conditions, sunlight, shiny objects with reflective surfaces and other sources of interference. Such issues can cause the sensor to generate random points on the map and reduce its accuracy.

By comparison, California-based auto tech startup Luminar offers a mechanical LIDAR alternative with a range of 250 meters. Luminar is currently part of Audi's AID alliance, serving the group as a sensor supplier. The startup previously supplied LIDAR parts to the Toyota Research Institute and Volvo.

Velodyne's high-end LIDAR can match the range of Aeva's sensors, but comes with a hefty price tag of $75,000 per unit. Aeva promises competitive pricing without decreased performance and reliability.

"We can integrate a lot of these optical components on the silicon level," said Mina Rezk, Co-founder of Aeva. "It is designed for mass scale."

"Cost is very dependent on volume. So it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, but that's where we can be the chicken, in the sense that we have the potential to scale."

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