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Aurora Innovation to acquire lidar company

Aurora Innovation plans to buy Montana-based Blackmore, a company that develops light detection and ranging radar (lidar) technology for self-driving vehicles.

The acquisition comes several months after Aurora’s $530 million Series B funding round, which was led by Sequoia Capital and “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates.

Aurora did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Disdained by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, lidar is considered a critical technology for self-driving vehicles by just about everyone else.

Lidar units are laser sensors that help autonomous vehicles detect obstacles and locate themselves on the road. Around 100 companies are working on the technology, which is used by General Motors, Ford and Waymo, among others.

“Lidar is critical for developing the safest and most reliable self-driving system, one that can navigate our roads more safely than a human driver,” Aurora said in a blog post announcing the deal.

Blackmore takes an unconventional approach to the technology, TechCrunch reports.

The system utilizes a continuous light wave and modulates the frequency to process information on the distance of targets. Conventional lidar tech sends pulsed light waves from its sensors.

“Ultimately we believe that Blackmore’s technology will allow us to deliver a safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective Driver than even the best systems available on the market today,” the Aurora blog post noted.

Blackmore’s office in Bozeman will serve as Aurora’s fourth office. The company already has offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California and Pittsburgh.

Aurora has partnerships with Volkswagen Group, Hyundai Motor Co. and Byton.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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