Blickfeld, a Munich-based startup developing LiDAR sensors for a variety of applications, including autonomous vehicles, has closed a Series A financing round. The amount of the Series A has yet to be disclosed, but it was led by the venture capital unit of Continental together with Wachstumsfonds Bayern. Blickfeld’s existing investors, Fluxunit – OSRAM Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, TEV (Tengelmann Ventures) and Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners.
Blickfeld in August 2018 increased its Seed funding to $10 million. Blickfeld said the new Series A funding will be used to ramp up production, qualify its LiDAR sensors for the automotive market and strengthen its approach for industrial markets.
Blickfeld’s 3D LiDAR sensors use centimeter-sized mirrors with a scanning angle of up to 120°, resulting in long detection range and a wide field of view. The company currently has two LiDAR sensors, the Cube 1 for wide field-of-view applications and the Cube 1 Range for applications that require long-range detection of objects up to 250 meters.
“The safety of autonomous vehicles is based on LiDAR sensor technology. We see Blickfeld in a unique position here, as our technology stands out due to its mass market capability,” said Blickfeld Co-Founder Florian Petit. “But the mobility sector is not the only area of application for our LiDAR sensors and recognition software: Numerous other successful customer projects in logistics, smart cities or the security sector confirm our approach, as does the financial commitment of the venture capital unit of Continental, Bayern Kapital and our previous investors. We are now looking forward to taking the next steps into series production.”
Blickfeld, which was founded in 2016 and now has 100-plus employees, has some stiff competition in the LiDAR industry. There are several major players, including Hesai, which recently raised $173 million, Velodyne, Luminar, and Ouster. And there are newcomers such as Sense Photonics, which just showed off its LiDAR sensors at MODEX 2020.
Acumen Research and Consulting predicts the global automotive LiDAR market value will reach about $3 billion by 2026. That marks a CAGR of 27.1% during the forecasted period 2019 to 2026. Of course, most autonomous vehicle developers think LiDAR is an essential piece of the puzzle. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not a fan of LiDAR and has called the technology a “fool’s erramd.” And while not as anti-LiDAR as Musk, researchers at Cornell University recently backed his LiDAR-less approach.