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Aurora picks up Blackmore in first major acquisition

Self-driving tech start-up Aurora is buying Montana-based lidar company Blackmore Sensors & Analytics.

Blackmore, a lidar start-up founded in 2016, has recently raised funds from BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures. Aurora, founded by engineers formerly with tech giants including Google, Tesla, and Uber, recently raised USD 530 million from investors that include Sequoia Capital, Amazon.com Inc. and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed. In a phone interview with Bloomberg News from Bozeman, Aurora CEO Chris Urmson said, “The goal of our last fundraising round was to put us into this position. This [Aurora] team has been working on lidar for a long time, and they bring a depth of knowledge and understanding and have made tremendous progress.” Blackmore’s focus is a next-gen lidar technology called frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW), which starts with photonic hardware and signal processing to maximize high-dynamic range, single photon sensitivity, and interference immunity, translating into real safety margin, chip-level scalability, and all-weather performance. In short, FMCW technology supports the simultaneous measurement of both range and velocity – how far away something is and how fast it is moving. In a company blog post announcing the acquisition, Aurora said, “Ultimately we believe that Blackmore’s technology will allow us to deliver a safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective driver than even the best systems available on the market today.” The sale will result in a fourth Aurora office, located in Bozeman, Montana, to take advantage of current Blackmore workforce.
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October 22 2019 8:26 pm V14.6.0-2