Arbe Robotics raises $9 million to prevent autonomous car crashes

Better radar could help bring crash-avoidance out of the realm of luxury vehicles and usher in affordable automation

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Tel Aviv-based Arbe Robotics, maker of ultra high resolution radar, just announced the completion of a $9 million funding round.

The money will enable Arbe to bring its high-resolution radar system into full production, with commercial installation of the system in autonomous vehicles slated within a year.

Radar is an important piece of the automated car puzzle -- although no one is sure just how big a piece it will be. Radar's advantage is that it's the only sensor that offers high range resolution in any weather.

That'll become necessary when autonomous vehicles venture outside of their cushy California proving grounds.

But two problems with existing commercial radar are that resolution remains relatively low and the technology produces a high rate of false alarms.

At present, most self-driving vehicles rely more heavily on spinning LiDAR laser sensors to make 3D maps of the world in real-time.

Tesla, an exception, relies on cameras and radar for its self-driving technology. But the death last year of a driver whose car ran into a tractor-trailer in Autopilot mode calls into question how effective those sensors will be on roads. The car couldn't distinguish between the light-colored trailer and the bright sky.

Arbe Robotics -- whose technology not involved in the Tesla crash -- has developed a radar solution that is much higher-resolution than existing commercial systems.

Radar also has a much smaller form-factor and is much cheaper than LiDAR.

The company is betting that that will make its solution attractive as automakers move to bring crash avoidance detection out of the realm of luxury cars.

"We're proud and honored by how far Arbe has come," said Kobi Marenko, founder and CEO of Arbe Robotics. "We've had some incredible partners during our funding journey, and we're excited to be a part of the movement that's bringing Level 3 automation to the future of vehicles."

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