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Chinese electric automaker helps Silicon Valley startup raise $30 million to develop auto radar technology

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-10-27 15:09
A logo of the automaker Nio. [Photo/VCG]

SAN FRANCISCO - Nio Capital, an investment arm of Chinese electric automaker Nio, has helped Silicon Valley startup Innovusion Inc raise $30 million to develop radar technology for autonomous vehicles, Innovusion said Thursday.

Innovusion said Nio Capital led the Series A funding in partnership with Eight Roads Ventures in China, F-Prime Capital in the United States, Gaorong Capital and other strategic investors.

The money will be used by Innovusion, a two-year startup based in Los Altos in Silicon Valley, to produce its radar system of laser-based guidance (LiDAR) called Cheetah, a sensor-powered technology that helps vehicles detect and see what is around them.

"Innovusion Cheetah is the world's first image-grade LiDAR system to support level 4+ (fully autonomous under certain operating conditions) autonomous driving solutions," said the startup.

It said its Cheetah LiDAR can detect objects more than 200 meters away and generates an exceptionally dense point cloud of 300 lines, more than doubling that of other similar systems.

Innovusion claimed that Cheetah is the first LiDAR technology to feature the unique combination of image-grade resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio required for long-distance detection.

Shortly after the fund-raising, Innovusion said its LiDAR system is now available for ordering by customers worldwide. The company began shipping samples of Innovusion Cheetah LiDAR in the second quarter of 2018.

"LiDAR technology is critical to accelerating the adoption and deployment of autonomous vehicles, and we look forward to working with providers and manufacturers to ensure their solutions are supported with the best-in-class technology for superior range and resolution," said Junwei Bao, co-founder and CEO of Innovusion.

He said that his company will focus on marketing its products for customers in both the United States and China.

LiDAR is a key component for autonomous driving and also one of the most advanced LiDAR sensors ever seen in the market, said Ian Zhu, managing partner at Nio Capital.

Nio is one of the major players on the electric vehicle market in China. It raised $1 billion in its first initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September this year. Apart from the United States, the Chinese electric automaker also has operations in Britain and Germany.

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