Smart radar startup Metawave closes initial Series A led by DENSO to deliver radar sensing for highly automated driving and wireless solutions for 5G deployments
Today’s sensors alone cannot meet the safety and smooth-riding requirements of automakers. Enter Metawave, a smart radar startup conducting groundbreaking work in radar sensing with its state-of-the-art analog radar, which provides longer range, higher resolution, and greater angular accuracy and intelligent object classification compared to traditional radars.
The new Metawave’s technology allows automakers to provide vehicles with next-generation adaptive cruise control, lane change assist and automated emergency braking. Put together, these analog-radar enabled features increase road safety and the likelihood that increasingly advanced driver assistance systems are accepted in the long-term.
Today, Metawave announced it has closed its initial Series A funding to deliver beamsteering analog radar for autonomous driving and beamforming “Smart Mirrors” boost 5G coverage. The round was led by DENSO, the world’s second largest mobility supplier. Other backers include Mirae Asset Capital, NTT DOCOMO Ventures and existing investors including BOLD Capital Partners.
Founded in 2017 by Bernard Casse and Maha Achour, the Palo Alto, California-basedMetawave is a wireless technology company that builds intelligent and high-performance automotive radars by leveraging metamaterials and AI.
Metawave’s Series A round is augmented by NTT DOCOMO Venture’s inclusion, a global leader in 5G, an important addition given Metawave’s 5G technology innovation – Metawave ECHO™ and TURBO™ to bend and boost mm-wave signals for a more efficient and convenient way to increase 5G coverage. Metawave’s initial seed round of $17 million included financial support from giants in the automotive market, including DENSO, Toyota, Hyundai, Infineon, and others.
Metawave’s primary market focus is to build intelligent beamsteering radars for autonomous driving. Changing the way automakers think about radar, Metawave is building high-performance radars capable of 3D imaging and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, making autonomous cars safer, smarter, and more connected. In parallel, Metawave is also developing smart beamsteering antennas for 4G and 5G networks to provide faster networks and near-instant connectivity for billions of users. Metawave’s current flagship beamsteering technology platform was developed at Xerox PARC.
“To be able to work on innovative hardware, system, software, and AI platforms in such high-growth markets is exciting and challenging,” said Maha Achour, founder and CEO of Metawave.
“When I see our automotive partners excited about our radar capabilities and telecom customers demonstrating impressive results using our 5G solutions, I’m inspired and proud to lead a fearless team who has been delivering incredible results in less than 18 months from opening our development center in Carlsbad. Consumer expectations and business demands are increasing with the advent of new technologies, especially in mobility and connectivity, and being able to work closely with 5G and automotive leaders helps us visualize the future and continuously adapt as roads become safer and people strive to be more productive.”
Safety requirements, as well as expectations for a smooth riding experience facing the auto industry cannot be met using only today’s sensors, even including top digital beamforming (DBF) or MIMO radars. Leading automakers are looking for innovative radar that provides longer range, higher resolution, and with greater angular accuracy and intelligent object classification. State-of-the-art analog radar delivers these critical features, giving automakers the ability to provide next-generation adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, and automated emergency braking. Clearing these hurdles is critical to ensuring the highest levels of repeatable and dependable safety adherence while gaining long-term community acceptance. The automotive radar market is expected to reach $10.5B by 2026, growing at a significant rate of 20.4% during the forecasted period 2019 to 2026.
“We’ve been working with Metawave since its founding and are continually impressed with the innovation the team can deliver,” said Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures at DENSO, and Metawave board member. “Electronically beamsteering radar will fundamentally change the way automakers think about sensors and their ADAS fusion, and Metawave has a head start in solving this complicated problem with a robust and modular technology platform. DENSO is very excited to continue to support Metawave’s impressive technology development as we continuously seek new ways to create value in mobility.”
At the same time, the growth in 5G is expected to be significant in the near term. 5G provides 100 times faster data speeds than 4G, while supporting low-latency applications such as autonomous driving, making it possible for multiple devices to be responsive in real time. 5G allows networks to transmit 10,000 times the traffic with less than 1 millisecond latency. And, it’s more reliable than prior cellular networks opening the doors to applications that support smart cities and autonomous driving.
“Tackling complex advancements in one industry is difficult enough, but to apply that same technology to two giant industries is incredible,” commented Metawave Board Member Karen C. Francis. “The go-to-market approach Metawave is taking is smart –focused on working with global leaders in each industry. They’re already seeing much interest of both the radar and 5G platforms. I look forward to working with Maha and her team as they grow and deliver over the coming months and years.”