Sense Photonics steps into self-driving cars market with its new sensor

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Sense Photonics
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The US-based electrical manufacturing company, Sense Photonics has developed a new detection technology that would mark a milestone in the history of self-driving cars.

Sense Photonics led by automotive industry veteran and former Google executive Shauna McIntyre is developing a lidar sensor that uses laser light to help autonomous vehicles to gain a three-dimensional view of the road. The company claims that its high-resolution, eye-safe, global shutter flash lidar can detect objects from 200 meters or about 650 feet.

Industry experts noted that lidar could become a key component of advanced vehicles in the coming years as a complement to cameras and radar-based sensors. The 200-meter range is a benchmark most of the lidar businesses have set for highway driving as they seek partnerships with automotive manufacturers.

Since last year, at least five lidar companies like Velodyne Lidar and Luminar Technologies, have either become publicly listed or are in the process of doing so, all through reverse mergers with publicly listed blank check firms.

However, the California-based Sense, which was founded in 2016 has raised $40 million from Samsung Ventures and Shell Ventures and has kept its profile low.

“In order to scale past niche automotive R&D projects for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AV), lidar sensors must fit within the vehicle’s acceptable system cost, package and reliability requirements,” McIntyre stated.

The company states that its target price for the new sensors will be in the hundreds of dollars for high-volume automotive applications. The innovative flash architecture is already capturing the interest of automakers, AV companies, and Tier 1 suppliers and the company is planning to start production by 2024.

Sense Photonics

Established in 2016, Sense Photonics offers high-performance, scalable 3D vision systems to enable mass-market adoption across a wide variety of applications including automotive, trucking, rail and industrial applications such as stationary security. The company has received financial backing from leading VC firms and strategic investors and has developed partnerships with leading automotive and robotics customers.