An Arizona startup that makes radars for autonomous vehicles has received $7 million in a series A funding round.
Tucson-based Lunewave, which was founded in 2017 by University of Arizona professor Hao Xin and his brother John, plans to use the fresh funding to expand its engineering and sales workforce as it continues to develop a two-sensor system that the company says could replace current automotive systems that use up to 20 radar sensors.
The funding round was led by FM Capital and joined by Proeza Ventures, Blue 9 Capital, Tsingyuan Ventures and Intact Ventures. Lunewave has also received grants from the National Science Foundation.
“As we continue to actively work with Tier 1 suppliers to establish strategic partnerships to jointly deliver a mass-produced Lunewave radar sensor, I am grateful for the strong support from FM Capital and our other investors ,” said John Xin, Lunewave’s CEO, in a statement. “Lunewave offers a significant enhancement for ADAS and autonomous vehicle applications for automakers and ride-hailing companies as well as the last-mile delivery, commercial trucking and construction industries.”
Lunewave’s technology involves the 3D-printed Luneburg lens, antennae and radar. The system is in its third version in less than three years, and the company said it offers broad bandwidth and high gain, and can form high-quality beams in all directions, allowing it to perform the functions now handled by more radar sensors while also enhancing resolution and performance.
The company said its radar can detect objects surrounding a car with six times the resolution available today, even at long range and in poor weather.
Hao Xin told Tech Crunch that the Lunewave is close to forming a contractual partnership to commercialize its product and expects to announce a strategic partnership with a global Tier 1 supplier by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
FM Capital Managing Partner Mark Norman also cited the cost savings Lunewave’s technology can provide.
“Lunewave’s ability to drive down the cost of sensors required while increasing their effectiveness is great news for the auto industry, but it’s even better news for the safety of our highways, roads and pedestrians,” Norman said in a statement. “Our firm is committed to driving both financial returns for our investors, but also societal returns for our communities, which is why we’re so excited about Lunewave.”
Proeza Ventures’ Managing Director Rodolfo Elias Dieck said advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicle systems will continue to proliferate in new vehicles, which means strong growth in radars, which are a core component in both.
“In Lunewave, we see a company with a differentiated technology that provides a high-performance radar that meets and surpasses the ever-increasing requirements for the automotive industry as stricter safety features are needed to comply with regulations, Dieck said in a statement. “Lunewave, with its savvy and technically strong team, really has an opportunity to penetrate this market because it provides a generational technology based on a paradigm-breaking concept that is vastly superior to current offerings at a time when the automotive industry is going through a transformation.”
Additionally, Lunewave added a pair of automotive industry veterans to its board of directors: Peter Schwarzenbacher, a former BMW executive, and James Zizelman, president of Stoneridge Control Devices and formerly vice president of engineering for Aptiv.
Lunewave was recently named Innovator of the Year in the governor’s 2020 Celebration of Innovation Awards. It also is one of the winners for the 2020 PACE Pilot award by Automotive News and was among EETimes’ Top 100 Startups around the world.
The company received $5 million in its seed round of funding in late 2018.