It's not enough for an autonomous vehicle to see the world around it. These vehicles need to understand in real time what they're seeing.
That understanding piece is critical, and it requires being able to identify objects in real time and in any environmental condition. It can mean the difference between an autonomous vehicle that appropriately notices and ignores a plastic bag floating by and one that slams on its brakes.
Tel Aviv-based startup Arbe has developed a high-resolution radar chipset that it says is a game changer for the automotive industry. Now, with a fresh injection of $32 million in capital, it's pushing to bring it into production and into the hands of Tier 1 suppliers.
Arbe said Monday that it has raised $32 million in a Series B funding round from a number of new investors, including BAIC Capital, Catalyst CEL, MissionBlue Capital and AI Alliance, a joint venture fund that includes Hyundai, SK Telecom and Hanwha Asset Management. Existing investors Canaan Partners Israel, iAngels, 360 Capital Partners, O.G. Tech Ventures and OurCrowd also participated.
Arbe will use the capital to hire more employees. But its big focus in the coming year is to bring its radar systems into full production.
"With the funds raised, Arbe will continue to deploy to the market a real breakthrough in radar technology that empowers Tier 1 automakers and OEMs to finally replace their legacy chipsets with one that truly meets the safety requirements of NCAP and ADAS for years ahead," CEO Kobi Marenko said in a statement.
Arbe already has five Tier 1 customers — two in China and three in Europe, Marenko told TechCrunch. Marenko wouldn't name the suppliers.
Arbe developed a high-resolution radar chipset designed to help autonomous vehicles, and even passenger vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, detect and identify objects. The technology can separate, identify and track hundreds of objects in high horizontal and vertical resolution to a long range in a wide field of view. Arbe says its radar chipset generates an image 100 times more detailed than any other solution on the market today. The system is then able to take those images and simultaneously localize and map the environment.
The high-resolution radar chipset resolves a number of issues found in legacy chipsets, Marenko said, including eliminating false alarms. Arbe's chipsets also can in real time process massive amounts of information generated by 4D imaging, and mitigate mutual radar interference. A radar system that has high-resolution object separation in azimuth and elevation will theoretically lead to more accurate decision making.
Arbe is so confident in its radar chipset that Marenko says it will enable Level 3 automation in passenger vehicles without requiring lidar, or light detection and ranging radar. Level 3 is a designation by SAE that means conditional automation in which a driver must still be prepared to intervene.