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AEye fills investors in on new lidar product amid continued losses outpacing revenue

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Market Trends | Technology
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4Sight, the previously dubbed “game changer” lidar platform by AEye, now has a new option that can see smaller objects at higher vehicle speeds.

During the company’s Q2 2023 earnings call on Monday, CEO Matt Fisch said 4Sight+ can detect pedestrians and small objects at up to 80 mph.

“This functionality is key to OEMs successfully delivering safe hands-free highway driving,” he said. “4Sight+ has received tremendous positive feedback from OEMs and the ADAS ecosystem and is currently being incorporated into Continental’s HRL 131 Long Range LiDAR product.”

During AEye’s Q2 2022 earnings call, former CEO Blake LaCorte told investors a recent upgrade at that time allowed 4Sight’s sensors to broaden or narrow their field of view depending on circumstances, such as the environment surrounding a vehicle.

Through the use of its ZoomCam feature, “4Sight can dynamically zoom in on objects on the fly, to add resolution at extremely long distances,” LaCorte said during an Aug. 15 second-quarter earnings call. “Remember, passive LIDAR systems are limited as they scan with fixed patterns at fixed distances. This new capability not only opens up new markets, but improves confidence in object tracking for existing customers.”

Current CEO Fisch told investors on Monday during a Q&A session that OEMs are looking for correct and safe performance, including at night. He spent the last couple of months on the road talking to OEMs.

“What really matters at the end of the day is whether or not the lidar device can identify and see hazardous conditions on the road and this is where we’re getting some incredibly strong feedback,” he said. “Can you see this object when you’re driving at night when you’re driving at high speed? Every OEM has their own set of torture tests in this regard.

“It could be a tire on the road. It could be the lane reflectors on the road, which are known to shine back into the laser… [or a] shadow at night or cars painted in very dark black colors… We’re doing incredibly well in this regard on these performance benchmarks, we’ll call them.”

He didn’t elaborate on the technology behind 4Sight+ but a news release from June, when the product was released, says AEye used its software-defined architecture “to improve the sensor’s range by 20% and increase spatial resolution by 400%, extending its high speed small obstacle detection capabilities, while enabling the same hardware to address hazardous vehicle cut-ins — providing an all-in-one solution for automotive OEMs.”

In addition to having the “on-the-fly” capabilities of 4Sight, new capabilities can be added to 4Sight+ with over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Fisch noted that supply chain readiness and costs have been barriers to widespread adoption of lidar.

He added, “Safety at speed is a critical advantage in the lidar space that enables safe hands-free highway driving… As expected, automotive OEMs are focused on all of these factors. Over the course of our long-standing partnership with Continental, AEye has made substantial progress in addressing these critical issues.”

And Fisch believes there is a huge financial opportunity ahead of AEye. “The automotive lidar market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 55% over the next five years to reach $4.7 billion in 2028.”

Outside of automotive lidar use, Fisch said AEye’s lidar has been successfully deployed on a 22-mile stretch of U.S. interstate highway to improve highway monitoring and automated incident detection.

NVIDIA has also provided positive feedback in urban and high-speed highway testing of HRL 131. notice, according to Fisch.

“We are especially gratified that after road testing our technology, NVIDIA commented that AEye’s technology is best-in-industry based on a crucial set of their KPIs,” he said.

Financially, AEye reports it’s doing better but losses are still in the millions compared to revenue of under $1 million:

    • Revenue of $600,000;
    • GAAP net loss of $16 million, or 9 cents per share;
    • Non-GAAP net loss of $11.7 million, or 7 cents per share; and
    • Cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities of $58.7 million as of June 30.

“AEye has taken a significant step forward this quarter in our path to commercialization in the automotive market,” Fisch said in a news release ahead of the conference call. “We’ve achieved major in-vehicle test milestones with three prestigious industry players, including NVIDIA and two global automotive OEMs; AEye has solidified a production-ready supply chain with Continental to deliver an ADAS product at a price well below $1,000; and we have been named a finalist for two automotive series production awards, with a strong pipeline of OEM RFQs representing a sizable revenue opportunity.

“Thanks to our capital-light licensing model and careful expense management, we accomplished these key milestones while reducing our cash burn rate. Looking ahead, we see momentum continuing to build throughout 2023 and beyond.”


Featured image: 3D generated fictitious autonomous vehicle to visualize lidar. (Credit: gremlin/iStock)

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