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SiLC lands additional $25M to boost FMCW lidar production

16 Nov 2023

Combined Series A and seed funding rises to $56M, with investment from new blue-chip partners.

SiLC Technologies, the Los Angeles startup developing chip-scale frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) lidar sensors, says it has attracted a further $25 million investment.

Bringing total funding across its seed and Series A rounds to $56 million, the latest support comes from some new investors in the form of Japan’s Hokuyo Automatic and ROHM Semiconductor, and the Korean tire giant Hankook.

The company, founded by CEO Mehdi Asghari in 2018, had previously raised $12 million in seed support, and $17 million announced in May 2021.

On the latest cash injection, Asghari commented: "This shows that a genuinely differentiated technology that is proven to work and adds real value will get support from its investor and customer base. Even in today’s economic climate we have nearly doubled our total fund raise. We are excited to have such notable industry leaders join us on our journey.”

The firm said that the new funds would be used to expand production in support of design wins for its “Eyeonic” machine vision solutions, as well as product development towards deployments in mobility, robotics, smart cameras, and security applications.

Sumio Utsunomiya, the COO of investor Epson X Investment Corp, added in SiLC’s announcement:

“SiLC’s on-chip FMCW lidar is very competitive in terms of sensor performance, chip integration and manufacturing know-how. We expect this technology to be applied in various industries in the future, such as industrial robots, autonomous vehicles, ADAS, and AR/VR wearable consumer devices.”

Manufacturing partner
SiLC is one of only a few lidar sensor developers to focus on the more technologically challenging FMCW approach, which requires a high degree of photonic integration on the chip scale, and a wavelength-tunable laser diode source.

But that additional complexity yields a major performance advantage, in that FMCW lidar sensors are able to capture both positional and velocity information from surrounding objects - with SiLC saying previously that it elevates the capability of machine vision closer to the realm of human visual cognition.

The firm has previously claimed to be the first to reduce the essential components required for a coherent FMCW system into a single, mass-producible chip using silicon photonics and automated assembly.

Last year SiLC announced a manufacturing partnership with Hong Kong’s Cloud Light Technology, to produce its “Eyeonic” vision sensors in volume. Cloud Light is now part of the Lumentum portfolio, following a $750 million deal completed just a week ago.

SiLC is also engaged with the automotive-focused chip firm Indie Semiconductor, with the aim of integrating Indie’s “Surya” system-on-chip for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving functions with SiLC’s FMCW lidar.

Range extension
While SiLC has initially focused on industrial machine vision applications of Eyeonic with partners including Hokuyo, it has previously claimed that the detection range of the sensor exceeds one kilometer - making it suitable for vehicles traveling at high speeds.

Four different versions of Eyeonic are currently available, each with a different range: short, medium, long, and ultra-long.

The short-range iteration is designed to offer vision detection at distances up to 50 meters, and is aimed at high-precision machine vision tasks including pallet and truck loading.

The medium-range version operates up to 150 meters, for home security and factory automation applications, with the long range alternative extending to 300 meters, and tailored for ADAS and autonomous vehicles.

The ultra-long range performance is now said to exceed 1250 meters, and is being aimed at deployments such as drone tracking, perimeter security, and airplane ground control.

Mad City Labs, Inc.ABTechHyperion OpticsAlluxaIridian Spectral TechnologiesSPECTROGON ABLASEROPTIK GmbH
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