Baraja, a Lidar startup company, recently raised $32 million during a Series A funding round that was led by Sequoia China and Main Sequence Ventures' CSIRO Innovation Fund, along with Blackbird Ventures.
Founded out of Sydney, Australia, in 2015, Baraja is one of a number of lidar startups targeting the burgeoning driverless car industry with the necessary smarts to safely navigate busy thoroughfares without human intervention.
Lidar technology essentially surveys the environment by beaming out laser-powered light to measure distances. Anyone who has observed the big players in the autonomous vehicle realm, such as Alphabet’s Waymo, will have noticed the giant spinning lasers mounted atop the vehicle’s roof that rotate to garner a comprehensive view of the environment. These are not only bulky, but expensive — perhaps prohibitively expensive if self-driving cars are ever to hit mass production. Moreover, because they are compiled of myriad moving parts, they are also not as durable as they could be in the rough-and-tumble of citywide transportation.
And this is one of the problems that Baraja is looking to fix, with a cheaper “new category of lidar” that repurposes existing technologies from the telecommunications and automotive industries. More important, however, is that its lidar system doesn’t utilize multiple rotating lasers or any moving parts — it uses what it calls “spectrum-scanning,” which leans on the basic physics of prisms to split and beam different colors and wavelengths of light in multiple directions.
To get a full 360-degree view, one of these sensors is positioned on each corner of the car’s roof.
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