Aeva to work with Denso on 'mass market' lidar sensors

(Reuters) - Silicon Valley startup Aeva Inc and Japanese automotive supplier Denso Corp on Tuesday said the two will collaborate on bringing a key sensor for self-driving cars to the “mass market.”

Aeva, founded by two former Apple Inc engineers, makes a lidar sensor that helps cars gain a three-dimensional view of the road and can also detect how quickly distant objects are moving. Founded in 2017, Aeva is in the process of becoming publicly traded through a reverse merger with blank-check firm InterPrivate Acquisition Corp in a deal that has raised $563 million.

Aeva’s sensor works on a principle called frequency modulated continuous wave, or FMCW, which is different from rivals such as Velodyne Lidar and Luminar Technologies.

In a statement, Kazuma Natsume, director of autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance systems engineering for division two of Denso, said the company plans on collaborating with Aeva “to further develop FMCW lidar, bring it to the mass market and create a society free from traffic accidents.”

Denso is the world’s second-largest automotive supplier, working closely with automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp, which owns nearly a quarter of the company. Beyond saying the two they are targeting a mass market, Aeva and Denso did not disclose further details of the collaboration, such as what the final cost of Aeva’s technology would be to automakers.

Aeva last year announced a deal with German automotive industry supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG to put its lidar sensors into production, and in 2019 took an investment from Porsche Automobil Holding SE, the majority-voting shareholder of Volkswagen AG.

“Achieving high performance is table stakes” for lidar sensors, Soroush Salehian, Aeva’s chief executive, told Reuters in an interview. “Achieving high performance at an affordable cost is the holy grail.”

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Steve Orlofsky