Sense Photonics just emerged from stealth mode today with a $26M A round
co-led by Acadia Woods and Congruent Ventures, with participation from a number of other investors, including Prelude Ventures, Samsung Ventures and Shell Ventures. It has partnered with Infineon and an unnamed tier-1 supplier.
We build a massive array of lasers — literally thousands and thousands, spread apart for better thermal performance and eye safety.that are stuck on a flexible backing, meaning the array can be curved — providing a vastly improved field of view: 90 degrees vert and 180 degrees horizontal
The sensor can exist totally separately from the emitter, and is little more than a specialized camera. That means that while the emitter can be integrated into a curved surface like the headlight assembly, while the tiny detectors can be stuck in places where there are already traditional cameras: side mirrors, bumpers, and so on.
Because the sensor they use is so close to an ordinary RGB camera’s, images from the former can be matched to the latter very easily.
Most lidars output a 3D point cloud, the result of the beam finding millions of points with different ranges. This is a very different form of “image” than a traditional camera, and it can take some work to convert or compare the depths and shapes of a point cloud to a 2D RGB image. Sense’s unit not only outputs a 2D depth map natively, but that data can be synced with a twin camera so the visible light image matches pixel for pixel to the depth map. It saves on computing time and therefore on delay — always a good thing for autonomous platforms.