Self-driving car startup Aurora has acquired Bozeman, Mon.-based Blackmore, which has expertise in light detection and ranging radar, or lidar.
In a blog post, Pittsburgh-based Aurora said it believes lidar is critical for developing a reliable self-driving system that can navigate roads more safely than a human driver. Different sensor types have different strengths and weaknesses, so the company wants to incorporate multiple types to improve the reliability of the system. It believes that lidar, specifically Blackmore’s pioneering work in radar systems, should be part of the ultimate sensing system.
This acquisition comes on the heels of a $530 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital, along with significant investment from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates, TechCrunch reports.
The Blackmore purchase follows another smaller acquisition of 7D Labs earlier this year, according to TechCrunch. 7D, founded by a former software engineer from Pixar animation, is a simulation startup that makes photorealistic synthetic data sets for street scenes.
Blackmore has 70 employees and is well-known in the world of autonomous vehicles and in military circles.
“Companies, of course, aren’t just about the technology — they’re about the people who build that technology,” Aurora said in its blog post. "We’re thrilled to welcome the Blackmore team to Aurora. They bring deep expertise and diverse perspectives. With a fourth Aurora office located in Bozeman, Montana, we are in a position to attract top talent from an even more diverse pool. We look forward to working together to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly."