Self-driving technology developer Aurora Innovation has unveiled its plans to acquire lidar specialist Blackmore Sensors and Analytics. The move comes a matter of months after Aurora secured US$530m during a series B funding round, which included significant investment from Amazon.
A statement on the Aurora website said, “Lidar is critical for developing a reliable self-driving system that can navigate our roads more safely than a human driver. As we’ve said before, different sensor modalities have different strengths and weaknesses; thus, incorporating multiple modalities drives dramatic improvements in the reliability of the system. Based on our decades of industry experience, we’re clear that lidar, specifically with the advancements Blackmore has made, is part of the ultimate sensing system.”
The California-based startup was founded in 2017 by three industry heavyweights, comprising Chris Urmson, former chief technology officer at Alphabet; Sterling Anderson, former director of autopilot programs at Tesla; and Drew Bagnall, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and a founding member of both Carnegie Robotics and Uber’s Advanced Technology Center.
“Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) is a next-generation lidar technology that further advances our state-of-the-art Aurora Driver,” continued Aurora. “Blackmore’s pioneering work in FMCW technology has illuminated the future of automotive lidar. Blackmore starts with photonic hardware proven in the optical fiber communications industry. Signal processing then maximizes FMCW’s advantages of high dynamic range, single photon sensitivity, and interference immunity — technical jargon that translates into real safety margin, chip-level scalability, and all-weather performance.
“Finally, the point-by-point velocity measurement enabled by FMCW will allow us to rewrite perception in robotics. Ultimately, we believe that Blackmore’s technology will allow us to deliver a safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective driver than even the best systems available on the market today.”