Driverless Sensor Startup Sense Photonics Raises $26 Million in Series A Funding
LIDAR sensors that power self-driving vehicles are becoming more powerful, accurate and reliable. Such trends stem from the development of next-generation auto sensors, which startup Sense Photonics is currently pioneering.
In its quest to keep driverless cars safe via LIDAR systems and bring automated solutions to fast-moving sectors, the North Carolina-based company completed a Series A funding round. The financing event raised $26 million and was led by Acadia Woods Partners, as well as Congruent Ventures.
Series A Financing Round
The Series A round attracted several high-profile venture capital firms. Other participants include the following groups: Prelude Ventures, Samsung Ventures and Shell Ventures. Prior to the Series A, the startup held two venture rounds, roughly a year apart from each other. With the successful Series A, Sense Photonics has consistently raised funds every year since 2017.
The establishment will use the funds from the Series A round to move forward with developing its LIDAR sensor products and expand operations (it has offices in North Carolina, Silicon Valley and Edinburgh, UK). Moreover, Sense Photonics is in the process of carrying out early sales programs with various companies. The business is on track to announcing its first commercial product by the end of this year.
"We are very appreciative of this strong vote of investor confidence in our team and our technology," said Scott Burroughs, CEO of Sense Photonics.
"The demand we've encountered – even while operating in stealth mode – has been extraordinary. We look forward to announcing our first products over the next few months and ramping up volume production."
Although the startup still has a lengthy list of objectives to meet, it is making notable progress in the automotive sensor industry. Sense Photonics has partnered with German semi-conductor brand Infineon, as well as an unnamed Tier 1 auto establishment. Announced earlier this year, the two parties will share the startup's commitment in building next-generation LIDAR sensors for self-driving vehicles.
The startup's sensors are very durable, as they leverage solid-state architecture. Systems with this type of build do not have moving parts that can easily get damaged (e.g. comparing filament-based incandescent lights with solid-state LEDs or mechanical hard drives with solid-state hard drives).
From a performance perspective, the LIDAR sensor being developed by the startup "flashes" the surrounding area. Other methods require scanning or sweeping the vehicle's environment. The latter type of LIDAR sensor is prone to decreased range and image resolutions. Another cutting-edge feature that sets the startup's LIDAR unit apart from its competitors is separate sensor and emitter components. On self-driving cars, the parts can be installed at different sections to suit specific hardware configurations.
"Congruent is excited to work with Sense Photonics and its outstanding leadership team to help bring innovation to the autonomous vehicle and robotics space," said Josh Posamentier, Managing Partner at Congruent Ventures.
Sense Photonics serves a wide range of markets that are transitioning to automated solutions. In addition to autonomous vehicles, the startup caters to industrial robotics, materials processing, large-scale production and manufacturing.
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