AEye is a pioneer of artificial perception and the creator of iDAR™ (Intelligent Detection and Ranging), a perception system that that acts as the eyes and visual cortex of autonomous vehicles.
First-generation LiDAR technologies use siloed sensors, rigid asymmetrical data collection methods, and post-processing, which lead to latency as well as over- and under-sampling of information. By contrast, iDAR optimizes data collection – decreasing data volume but increasing its quality and relevance – for accelerated perception and path-planning.
AEye is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and backed by world-renowned investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Airbus Ventures and Intel Capital.
Since the first demonstration of its solid state LiDAR scanner in 2013, AEye has pioneered breakthroughs in intelligent sensing. Its iDAR technology combines the world’s first agile MOEMS LiDAR, pre-fused with a low-light camera and embedded AI to create software-definable and extensible hardware that can dynamically adapt to real-time demands.
By enabling intelligent prioritization and interrogation, AEye’s iDAR can target and identify objects within a scene 10 to 20 times more effectively than LiDAR-only products. iDAR delivers higher accuracy, longer range, and more intelligent information to optimize path planning software. This radically improves autonomous vehicle safety and performance at a reduced cost.
AEye’s primary challenges are two-fold. The first of these is that the company is in a dynamic, noisy market.
There are over 60 companies building 3D sensing technologies for autonomous vehicles. All but AEye are sensor-only, point solutions. AEye has created an integrated perception system that incorporates data from sensors. While point solution providers want to be judged by sensor-level technical features, AEye measures its performance based on the quality, reliability, and speed of information their system delivers to autonomous vehicle path-planning software. The difference is clear, but maintaining this clear distinction over time is challenging.
The second challenge relates to AEye’s success in addressing the first. The market has been coming to them. At CES, AEye was flooded with interest from every major Automobile OEM and every Tier One Automotive parts supplier.
As a small company with limited resources, their biggest challenge is prioritizing which partners are the best fit for AEye and investing the appropriate amount of time in each to ensure mutual success. Investing in the wrong partner – either because technology is not a good fit, product development timelines do not align, or commercialization expectations do not sync – drains AEye’s limited resources while compromising their ability to hit the market window.
Luis Dussan, Co-Founder and CEO of AEye, is a two-decade veteran of electro-optics. He has served as chief technologist of EO Sensors/LADAR at Northrop Grumman, chief engineer at Lockheed Martin, and systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
At NASA, he worked on its deep space network. At Lockheed, Luis ensured visual accuracy of the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), a multimillion dollar system used by fighter jets to detect, identify and engage tactical-size targets outside the range of most enemy air defenses.
He holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, an M.Sc. in Quantum Optics, and an M.Sc. in Optics & Photonics. Luis put his Ph.D. in Computational Physics on hold to start AEye.
Products by AEye
AEye’s AE100 is a leading edge artificial perception system for autonomous vehicles, ADAS and mobility markets. It incorporates breakthrough advancements in perception and path-planning.
The AE100 is based on AEye’s iDAR perception system. iDAR mimics how a person’s visual cortex focuses on and evaluates potential driving hazards. Using embedded AI within a distributed architecture, iDAR critically and dynamically assesses general surroundings, while applying differentiated focus to track targets and objects of interest.
As a scalable, integrated system, iDAR delivers more accurate, longer range, and more intelligent information faster.
AEye has been awarded foundational patents for its solid state MEMs-based agile LiDAR and embedded AI technology. In 2017, the company successfully conducted the first live metropolitan demo ever of a 360-degree solid state LiDAR system, showcasing its ability to collect real-time, high-density point clouds at up to 300 meters.
At CES 2018, AEye introduced its first product for the automotive market, the AEye AE100, based on their iDAR™ artificial perception system. The company also conducted 182 car demonstrations at the show with every major automotive OEM and Tier 1 organization in the industry.
AEye is now optimizing its proprietary software to make sure it delivers the best data to the path-planning software.
Most companies spend the majority of their time in the fusion and decimation of data, and then they do a little bit of perception. AEye wants to optimize that process: acquiring the most information with the fewest amounts of ones and zeros. Perception can develop on top of that model, which allows the company to move industries like automotive, construction, and ITS infrastructure into the next realm of autonomous capability.