The Shanghai-based Lidar manufacturer Hesai has announced that it brought in more than $300 million in a Series D financing round. The round was led by GL Ventures, Meituan, Xiaomi, and CITICPE.
Hesai has said that the new capital injection will be used to increase the volume production of its hybrid solid-state Lidar, for research and development of its automotive-grade high performance Lidar chips, and for the construction of its smart manufacturing center.
The Hesai team currently numbers more than 500 people and includes experts in photoelectric chips, automotive-grade design process, functional safety performance, deep-learning-based perception capability, active anti-interference technology, automated production, and more.
Lidar sensors are considered an integral part of the move to fully autonomous vehicles. While there are some problems with using Lidar for self-driving vehicles, such as how light reacts with haze and fog, it has some key advantages over radar systems when it comes to detecting stationary objects. A drawback of Lidar has also been the high price tag, but as this continues to come down, it makes it more feasible that Lidar will be widely used.
Other companies, such as Argo AI, are also working hard developing Lidar technology, believing it to be the key to unlocking fully autonomous driving. Then there is Tesla’s approach, which is using a combination of AI software and vision cameras to achieve autonomous driving. Even if Tesla’s approach is effective, it’s likely that Lidar has a bright future. While the most attention for Lidar often comes from the fact it is used for autonomous vehicles and taxis, it does have other uses too. Industrial automation could stand to benefit greatly from the use of Lidar technology.
Hesai already has a range of Lidar products on offer, such as the Pandar series for self-driving cars, and has formed partnerships with Meituan, Baidu, Nuro and more. The new funding will enable it to continue its expansion while ramping up production.
Image courtesy Hesai
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