A startup company called Ouster has raised $27 million in its Series A funding round, led by Cox Enterprises, a diversified company which has a very large automotive business unit.
Ouster is a developer of light detection and radar systems, or lidar, which is said to be a critical component in many new technologies, including autonomous cars. A lidar unit can often be seen on top of self-driving cars, and looks a bit like a siren light.
Ouster’s new product is called OS1 Lidar, which is likely to find wide application as a perception technology for the autonomous vehicle and robotics sectors.
Ouster’s financing was led by Cox Enterprises. Other funders include Fontinalis Partners, Amity Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, and Carthona Capital.
Ouster, a San Francisco-based developer of high performance lidar technology has been in stealth mode until today.
The company says its new OS1 model lidar represents a “step-change in lidar sensing technology” available on the market today.
It says OS1 features marked improvements in mass, form factor, and power requirements.
The 64-channel lidar sensor, which Ouster says also matches the resolution of the “highest performing automotive lidar technology on the market today”, has begun shipping to customers, and is “rapidly ramping up commercial-scale production at a price point approximately 85 per cent below that of its competition”.
David Blau, VP of corporate strategy and investments at Cox Enterprises, who will join the Ouster board, says: “Ouster’s OS1 Lidar is a truly compelling piece of technology that we believe is going to accelerate the autonomous driving development curve.
“We are excited to back Angus, Mark, and the entire Ouster team as they are now positioned to be the first true competitor in what’s largely been a one-player market to date.”
Ouster was founded by CEO Angus Pacala, co-founder and former head of engineering of Quanergy Systems, and CTO Mark Frichtl, a prior Quanergy Systems engineer who also spent time at Palantir Technologies, First Solar, and the Apple Special Projects Group.
Pacala and Frichtl formed Ouster with the vision to create a high-performance, reliable, and small form factor lidar sensor that could be manufactured at a scale and price that would allow autonomous technology to continue its rapid expansion without the cost and manufacturing constraints currently present in the market.
Pacala says: “The company has maintained a low-profile for over two years – staying heads-down and focusing on getting the OS1 ready to ship.
“I’m incredibly proud of our team for their hard work to produce the most advanced, practical, and scalable lidar sensor on the market, and we’re very excited about the impact our product will have in autonomous vehicles and other applications in robotics.”
Ouster’s Series A funding will primarily be used for the manufacturing and the continued development of its next sensor designs.
The company anticipates manufacturing capacity in the tens of thousands of sensors in 2018 based on its current product design, and Ouster’s product roadmap supports continually improving resolution, range, and alternative form factors.
Additionally, the new capital will support the company’s expansion from approximately 40 employees today to 100 employees by summer 2018.
Chris Thomas, a founder and partner of Fontinalis Partners, says: “Ouster is poised to be a key enabler of the future of mobility.
“We spent the past 12 months researching the broader perception space, with a specific focus on lidar, and feel strongly that Ouster’s team, technical approach, and focus on manufacturing at volume positions them to capture a market leadership position today and power the autonomous systems of the future.”