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Continental invades Silicon Valley. SpotHero acquisition. Space tech funding falls back to earth.
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Seeing is believing

Hi there,

Sensing and perception continues to be the hot auto tech theme of 2017, with Austin Russell's five-year-old Luminar Technologies becoming the latest company to reveal a new LiDAR design. The startup promises 50 times the resolution and 10 times the range of existing sensors.

Using our compare companies tool, we examined eight VC-backed sensing and perception startups targeting autonomous driving applications. All of these companies have raised at least one round of funding since last August, illustrating the attention that the field has drawn.



Many of these startups promise lower cost and/or higher-fidelity alternatives to traditionally pricey LiDAR sensors. LiDAR incumbent Velodyne, backed by Ford and Baidu, is expecting a record year as engineers face months-long waits for its sensor units.

The perception battleground has grown as fierce as autonomous driving itself. Startups are weighing the alternating priorities of resolution versus cost, while Waymo's novel LiDAR designs are central to both its value proposition and its ongoing lawsuit against Otto and Uber.

Meanwhile, several startups (and Tesla) are betting that autonomous vehicles can be deployed with improving camera tech and computer vision alone.

The warehousing boom

Fueled by rising demand for online retail and competition for labor, e-commerce giants have been opening fulfillment centers at a blistering pace, driving warehousing wages and job markets upwards across the US.



In addition to traditional muscle, retailers are also leaning heavily on tech to optimize their warehouse operations. Amazon made an early push into robotics with its 2012 Kiva acquisition, but many other startups are still forging ahead on automation as well as management software, asset tracking, wearables and more. Check out our full market map to see all 48 companies.



The final frontier

Beyond the bevy of startups seeking to revolutionize earthbound transport, private companies working on spaceflight and associated tech have also risen to the fore, securing nearly $4B in funding over the past two years. 2017 has already seen some major deals, headlined by the SoftBank-sponsored merger of OneWeb and Intelsat.
 


Many of these companies are either indirectly or directly targeting transport industries with communications, navigational, or tracking-oriented use cases (Kymeta, which is developing satellite antennas to improve broadband access for aircraft, ships, and connected vehicles, saw a $73.6M financing last month).


Have a great rest of the week.

Kerry
@kerrygwu

8 startups developing sensing and vision solutions for autonomous vehicles

A look into eight sensing and vision startups as VCs and strategic investors hunt for opportunities within the self-driving ecosystem. See the comparison.
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48 tech startups transforming warehousing in one infographic

Startups working on both aerial and ground-based delivery drones take further steps towards commercialization. Check out the market map.
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Space tech funding drops back to earth as deals push up

Entrepreneur-celebrities Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have made space tech startups much more prominent investor targets.. See the data.
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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Deals
Otonomo raises $25M. The startup has secured a $25M round led by Delphi to continue building its connected car monetization platform.
VentureBeat

Valens raises $60M. The provider of in-vehicle connectivity and networking solutions has raised $60M led by Israel Growth Partners.
PR Newswire

Lyft final numbers. The transportation network company closed its fundraising round with $600M in new capital at a $7.5B post-money valuation.
Lyft

FretLink gets $6.4M. The French transportation marketplace aims to connect shippers to transportation companies.
TechCrunch

Best Logistics plans IPO. The Alibaba-backed logistics company is planning to raise around $1B in a US listing.
WSJ

SpotHero acquires Parking Panda. The parking startup has acquired its rival to beef up its B2B offerings and expand its footprint into Canada.
VentureBeat

News
Tesla developments. Tesla plans to dedicate Grohmann Engineering (acquired in November 2016) to Model 3 production, dropping its other clients. Elon Musk also revealed that an electric semi truck will be unveiled in September, with a pickup also on the way.
Electrek (Grohmann) / Electrek (semi/pickup)

Luminar unstealths. The company, whose founder Austin Russell was recently profiled by Bloomberg, has officially revealed its LiDAR sensors.
TechCrunch

GM's Super Cruise finally launching. After a series of delays, the company's Autopilot competitor will be available on the 2018 Cadillac CT6.
Electrek

Alphabet wants public Uber case. Uber denied that it was using stolen Waymo tech, but Alphabet is opposing a motion for private arbitration.
Recode

Uber news: EVs and another departure. Uber has launched a new initiative to push EVs to drivers. Meanwhile, the company's longtime head of PR became the latest high-level departure from the company.
Electrek (EVs) / Recode (PR head departure)

Marble starts food deliveries. The delivery robot company has begun testing food deliveries for Yelp Eat24.
TechCrunch

Continental opens San Jose office. The 145-year-old auto firm has opened a new R&D lab to focus on self-driving tech.
SFGate

Articles & Perspectives
Bill Gurley on self-driving cars. Benchmark partner believes that it may be more than 25 years before autonomous vehicles handle the majority of rides in American cities.
This Week In Startups (video)

Why Germans don't want electric cars. German drivers value long-range use cases like weekend vacations.
Quartz

Semi-autonomy is not the answer. Alex Roy argues that automakers are botching the transitional phase to full autonomy.
Combustion

Warehousing heating up local job markets. Wages and employment are on the rise as online retail drives demand at fulfillment centers.
WSJ

Another self-driving study. BCG projects that driverless cars will account for a quarter of all US miles driven by 2030.
The Boston Consulting Group
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