As carmakers and tech companies continue to improve the mechanics and reliability of self-driving cars, Arbe Robotics, a Tel Aviv startup developing a high-resolution radar system to help those vehicles detect and identify objects, has raised $9 million to help see itself to its first in-car trials in the next year or two. There are five of these trials in the works right now, founder and CEO Kobi Marenko tells us, all in the US with large partners.
(I asked multiple times, and Marenko would not give me any more clues as to who they are beyond what I have detailed here.)
O.G. Tech Ventures, a new VC backed by Eyal Ofer, the Israeli shipping and real estate magnate; and OurCrowd, the equity crowdfunding platform led the round, with previous investors Canaan Partners, iAngels, and Taya Ventures also participating. This brings the total raised by Arbe to $12 million.
Considering how strongly linked venture funding is to developing engineering-intensive AI and sensor startups, this funding puts Arbe somewhere squarely in the middle of the field of others working in the same space as it is.
Echodyne — which today mainly seems to focus on drones but is also eyeing up road vehicles — is now at $44 million raised. Autoliv is publicly traded with a market cap of over $10 billion and has also recently moved into the market. YC-incubated Zendar, on the other hand, has only disclosed around $4.3 million in funding to date. And Uhnder describes itself as “fully funded” but has been very under the radar (heh) when it comes to any more details about what that entails.
Marenko describes Arbe as capital efficient and said that the company had actually wanted to raise about $2 million less than it had. “There is a push right now to take as much money as you can, but we try to take a little as we need to make it to the next station,” he said. “With this $9 million, we are able to finish the product, to do more tests, to build a support center in the U.S. and to get to the next station.” He’s also prepared to raise more when the time comes, and if that coincides with actual commercial deals beyond trials, it will be at a much better valuation for the company.
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