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AEye Appoints Blair LaCorte as CEO; Luis Dussan Named President and CTO

Date Announced: 20 Oct 2020

Company expands advisory board with high-profile leaders in automotive, trucking, and rail.

DUBLIN, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AEye, Inc, the creators of IDAR™, a perception system that acts as the eyes and visual cortex of semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, today announced it is appointing Blair LaCorte to the role of CEO, in conjunction with the launch of the new 4Sight sensor family of products. Luis Dussan, AEye founder, will continue to partner with LaCorte in driving growth and will focus on accelerating technology and product development as company President and Chief Technology Officer.

4Sight provides the only commercially viable long-range, high-performance LiDAR with a functionally safe AI-based perception system. Additionally, 4Sight offers the option for the industry’s only fully integrated HD camera, creating the industry’s first RGB boresighted point cloud to enhance classification capabilities. 4Sight will power automotive and trucking safety (ADAS), automated driving systems, and industrial and Intelligent Transportation systems.

Dussan founded the company in 2013 with a unique perspective on how to effectively enable LiDAR-enhanced perception for automated driving systems. Dussan was highly Influenced by his extensive experience with robotic vision, artificial intelligence and advanced sensing networks as an executive at aerospace and defense organizations, including NASA, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Dussan believed the optimal robotic vision system would be software-definable with active, agile LiDAR instead of the passive spinning, flash, or raster LiDAR currently available. These systems needed to perform more like the human visual cortex – focusing (or foveating) on the most critical information in a scene as it scans. The key was to understand the difference between information quality and data quantity and the detrimental effects of latency in the information chain.

With these design objectives in-mind, AEye created its iDAR software platform that powers the 4Sight sensors. IDAR stands for “Intelligent Detection and Ranging” and is core to the company’s software-definable, intelligent LiDAR which has achieved industry leading performance records for range, rate, and resolution. Unlike other LiDAR alternatives, AEye’s software definability allows OEMs, Tier 1s, and system integrators to quickly test, optimize, and calibrate a single hardware system to its precise location on a vehicle with the ability to address any unique use case such as highway or city driving or adverse weather conditions.

The results are clear. AEye has over the last three years become the most awarded company in the industry with recognition from both peers and end users, and captured more than two dozen awards for innovation and product performance of its hardware, software, and artificial intelligence.

"We started AEye with a blank sheet of paper and a goal to create a simple, cost-effective, modular approach to lean sensing,” said Luis Dussan, AEye’s founder, president, and CTO. “By focusing on the data needed to make decisions, we created an intelligent software platform that leverages agile LiDAR as part of a system instead of a stand-alone passive sensor. This approach enables Tier 1 automotive suppliers and technology system integrators with existing customer relationships to precisely and efficiently address any use case."

Aligning Executive Management Team for Commercial Growth

Blair LaCorte, previously AEye’s President, is a technology, aerospace and defense executive who has spent his career driving growth and operational excellence across private and public companies. Prior to AEye, LaCorte was Global President of PRG, the world's largest live event technology and services company, CEO of XOJET, one of the fastest growing aviation companies in history, and operating partner at TPG, a premier private equity firm with more than $90 billion in global investments. He also has significant experience with public equity offerings as an investor and operator. Earlier in his career, LaCorte held executive and general management positions in companies including VerticalNet, Savi Technologies/Networks, Autodesk and Sun Microsystems. Blair graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maine and holds an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

“I am excited to be part of a company that is accelerating the deployment of safer and more affordable forms of automated transportation,” said LaCorte, CEO of AEye. “We are fortunate to have a passionate and mature executive team that has spent years working together to achieve a common goal. In this sense, the transition to CEO is natural and empowering as we focus on this next chapter of AEye’s growth.”

Dussan added, “I'm excited to have my friend and advisor with me in this next expansive phase of AEye. We have a lot of good work ahead of us. Based on the challenges we've overcome, Blair and I have the utmost confidence in our culture and team. The public markets clearly are excited by this vision based on the support of recent offerings from passive LiDAR providers Velodyne and Luminar."

Expanding Advisory Board with Industry Leaders in Automotive, Trucking, and Rail

AEye’s unique system approach and the introduction of the 4Sight product has received strong support from thought leaders across various industries. This includes four new executives who have been named to the company’s advisory board. These industry veterans will bring their experience and expertise to the company as it scales for growth in automotive and adjacent high-growth markets.

Jon Lauckner brings unparalleled experience in integrating and commercializing automotive technology. Mr. Lauckner was formerly Chief Technology Officer of General Motors Company and President of GM Ventures. Prior to his retirement in July 2020, Mr. Lauckner was responsible for executing strategic investments in innovative companies developing next-generation technology. As GM’s head of research and development, he was also actively involved in the development of the latest and most-advanced technologies into GM vehicles. Over his 40+ year career at GM, Mr. Lauckner also held senior positions in Global Product Planning and Global Program Management.

Dr. Bernd Gottschalk brings significant commercial vehicle and trucking experience. He has held a number of executive leadership positions across his nearly 50 years of experience - including Executive Board Member for Daimler AG, responsible for the Commercial Vehicles Business Unit globally. Dr. Gottschalk was also president of Mercedes Benz Brazil, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) and serves on the board of directors of Schaeffler Group, Plastic Omnium, and Jost Werke, and previously served on the boards of Delphi and Voith. Dr. Gottschalk is the founder and Managing Partner of automotive consultancy AutoValue, and a senior advisor to venture capital firm Vektor Partners.

Frank Petznick has many years of experience developing and deploying innovative new technologies in the fields of electronics, infotainment and sensor technology. Mr. Petznick is currently the Executive Vice President of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems at Continental AG. Prior to joining Continental, Mr. Petznick was Executive Vice President of Automated Driving at Hella AG and a member of Hella Electronics Executive Board. During his tenure at Hella, Mr. Petznick held executive roles on both a regional and global basis.

Keith Dierkx was formerly IBM's Global Industry Leader for Freight, Logistics and Rail. He also directed IBM’s Global Rail Innovation Center in Beijing, China, formed to guide the hundreds of billions of dollars China earmarked to spend building out high-speed rail lines across the country. Prior to IBM, Mr. Dierkx was Senior Vice President of Operations for Embarcadero Systems, the Information Technology arm of Marine Terminal Corporation (now Ports America), where he led the transformation of terminal operations through the utilization of digital technologies such as IoT, sensors, vision systems, and geo-spatial capabilities, to automate and optimize processes. Mr. Dierkx was also the co-founder of Savi Networks.

Newly Awarded Foundational Patents Extend the Advantages of AEye’s iDAR Platform

In recent months, AEye has seen a significant expansion of its global patent portfolio, with 17 new patents - bringing the total number of granted patents to 32 with 18 more patents in process. With a focus on quality, the company has been granted over 2.5 times more claims per patent than any other LiDAR company. These patents align with the unique biomimicry-inspired, software driven system architecture and fall into three core functional elements:

  • Flexible modular hardware architecture allowing plug and play innovation from Tier 2 Automotive Suppliers
  • Software definability of all hardware components and efficient fusion of real-time sensing data, allowing higher quality and faster creation of actionable information
  • Integrated edge intelligence and flexible artificial intelligence to deliver more accurate information to perception systems and allow partners to run their existing algorithms seamlessly

“The existing infrastructure for driving was built for the human visual cortex. For example, humans can recognize contrast cues using color to inform decision making, from the crystal mixed with paint for lane lines to refract light or the color of road signs,” said Allan Steinhardt, Chief Scientist at AEye. “As it relates to making cars smarter, we do not see it as a competition between cameras and LiDARs, but rather an opportunity to merge the strengths of both technologies to allow vehicles to visualize better than humans. This intelligent approach has allowed us to create and patent a new data object called a Dynamic Vixel that captures XYZ and RGB all at point of acquisition. What we are showing with our fused point clouds is unique and will have a positive impact on vehicles’ ability to not just detect but classify objects, which is where real value is added in decision making.”

These advances build on AEye’s biomimicry approach to visual perception, essentially enabling vehicles to see and perceive more like humans to better evaluate potential driving hazards and adapt to changing conditions.

See the attached video for an example of AEye's patented Dynamic Vixel and the world's first commercial true-color point cloud.

Source: AEye

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