Aurora Innovation, the self-driving tech developer that recently bought Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, is acquiring OURS Technology, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in integrating multiple sensors into a single chip to help cut the cost and size of the laser lidar system it developed for autonomous trucks.
OURS, which specializes in sensor fusion applications, will integrate Aurora’s FirstLight lidar technology, created after it previously bought FMCW lidar maker Blackmore in 2019, into a solid-state chip. Aurora declined to say how much it’s paying for Santa Clara, California-based OURS, which has raised about $5.8 million since its founding, according to PitchBook. About a dozen OURS engineers are joining Aurora and will work at its Bay Area offices.
“You can’t bring high-speed autonomous vehicles to market safely without lidar,” Aurora CEO Chris Urmson said. “You can try, but you won’t succeed.”
Founded by former Google
Along with Aurora, leading autonomous tech developers including Waymo, Cruise, Ford- and Volkswagen-back Argo AI, Hyundai-backed Motional and Amazon’s
Blackmore’s lidar tech provided the long-range sensing Aurora wanted; OURS can make it cheaper and more compact, the company said. OURS’s proprietary design and development process–that Aurora is gaining–helped it create four generations of lidar in just three years, with the fourth-generation being just a tenth the size of earlier iterations, according to Aurora.
“FMCW technology could be key to bringing affordable self-driving to the masses,” said Asad Hussain, mobility analyst for PitchBook Mobility. “With its significantly reduced cost structure, improved performance through instant velocity readings, and small form-factor allowing for easier integration within bodywork and behind windshields, FMCW lidar could significantly disrupt lidar incumbents such as Velodyne, which utilize large, bulky, spinning applications with significant cost and maintenance disadvantages.”