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50 Best Companies to Watch 2023

Global leader RoboSense transforms conventional 3D LiDAR sensors with comprehensive data analysis and interpretation systems, creates smart solutions to enable robots

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“In 2022, we sold approximately 57,000 units of our LiDAR products and we sold our LiDAR perception solutions to approximately 200 customers.”

RoboSense is a global leader in the LiDAR and perception solutions market. It offers full-stack fusion perception capabilities and industry-leading software and hardware. The company serves clients globally.  

RoboSense’s mission is to make the world safer and smarter by endowing automobiles and robots with perception capabilities superior to human eyes.

The Silicon Review reached out to Dr. Qiu Chunxin, co-founder and CEO of RoboSense, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Please provide a summary of the events that led to the founding of RoboSense.

RoboSense was established in 2014, with the genes of technical algorithms. We have made great achievements in both technical products and company development and also achieved various major milestones in its hardware, chips, and algorithms. In 2016, we started developing mechanical LiDAR, which we called an R-platform. As early as 2017, we launched perception software, and also the predecessor of M platform, called M1pre. The launch of our M series products in June 2021 made us the first LiDAR company in the world to achieve mass production of automotive-grade LiDAR products equipped with in-house developed chips, according to CIC. In 2022, we launched the blind spot solid-state LiDAR E platform and E1 to enrich the M platform product line-up in the automotive LiDAR sector. As of March 31, 2023, we had served approximately 2,000 customers in the robotics and other non-automotive industries. According to CIC, we ranked No. 1 globally in terms of cumulative sales volume for customers in the robotics and other non-automotive industries as of December 31, 2022. To date, we have delivered over 100,000 LiDAR units in total.

Q. What strategies does RoboSense implement to maximize client satisfaction?

Balance among Key Indicators: Performance, reliability and cost are the three main factors customers usually consider when choosing LiDAR solutions. The perception performance of the LiDAR solution must meet customers’ requirements with respect to detection range, ranging accuracy, angular resolution, and FOV. In addition, automotive-grade reliability is one of the prerequisite requirements for the LiDARs to be used by automotive OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers for mass production. As such, LiDAR solutions that have passed multiple rounds of reliability verification by domestic and overseas automotive OEMs have significant competitive advantages. In addition to performance and reliability, customers are also pursuing low-cost solutions. Therefore, LiDAR companies use various chip technologies, including 2D scanning chips and SoC chips to improve integration, reduce the number of components required, and simplify the production process to achieve the optimal balance among performance, reliability, and cost.

Customizable Solutions: Due to the different needs of customers, in addition to providing products with various specifications, LiDAR companies are also actively developing and improving intelligent perception software to provide customized LiDAR solutions that can satisfy unique customer demands. Since customers have increasingly high requirements for perception performance, solutions solely using LiDAR as a sensor may fail to meet the needs of all customers in the long run. Thus, some LiDAR companies are also developing visual perception software and using multi-sensor fusion technology, which enables sensors such as LiDAR and cameras to complement each other, to provide better intelligent perception solutions. Therefore, customers would be able to select products or solutions most suitable for their own needs, maximizing the application value of intelligent sensing solutions.

Product Iterability: To achieve cost-efficient, long-term and stable business partnerships, customers will evaluate not only the specifications of LiDAR providers’ existing LiDAR solutions but also their ability to upgrade products iteratively, when selecting business partners. Customers prefer to establish collaborations with LiDAR companies that can improve the perception capabilities of their LiDAR solutions while maintaining product adaptability since this will greatly reduce the customers’ R&D expenditures for switching to upgraded LiDAR products.

State-of-the-art manufacturing facilities: We operate two in-house manufacturing centers in Shenzhen. Our Honghualing factory occupies approximately 13,000 square meters of space and mainly produces solid-state LiDARs, and has a monthly designed capacity of approximately 46,800 units. Our Shiyan factory mainly produces R Platform LiDARs with a monthly designed production capacity of approximately 2,500 units. We also invested in a manufacturing center through our joint venture Luxsense in Dongguan. We have established a high level of control throughout the entire production process from prototype to mass production. Utilizing our automated intelligent manufacturing and engineering facilities, we are able to achieve high product consistency and effective cost control.

Q. No doubt RoboSense is charting new territories in this segment. Given how frequently circumstances change, what plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Our philosophy of seamlessly integrating hardware and software capabilities will continue to guide our research and development efforts moving forward. We intend to further invest in our core technologies, including our in-house designed chips, technology platforms and AI perception software to support the development of our products and solutions. Building off the success of our chip-driven LiDAR platforms, we intend to further refine our products and solutions. We will continue to upgrade our existing products, including refining product design and simplifying product architecture with the use of our in-house designed SoCs. This will further enhance the competitiveness of our products in terms of performance, cost-effectiveness and reliability. Our customers are able to seamlessly upgrade to the next generation of LiDAR solutions on the same platform with minimal additional development cost, thereby enhancing customer stickiness. Furthermore, we will continue to pioneer different LiDAR technologies, and roll out and commercialize new products, to satisfy the constantly evolving needs of customers. We intend to further optimize our AI perception software by obtaining abundant high-quality training data and enhancing computing power efficiency through structural optimization of our software. We are also committed to enhancing our multi-sensor fusion technology to offer a full spectrum of perception solutions to our customers. We are confident that our in-house developed LiDAR solutions featuring highly synergistic integration of hardware and software will continue to distinguish us from our competitors.

Furthermore, we will continue to strengthen our manufacturing capabilities and enhance our supply chain management ability to facilitate the rapidly growing mass production and delivery of our LiDAR products.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?

We have built our industry-leading technology capabilities on two fundamental pillars: chip-driven hardware platforms and AI perception software. Based on this approach, we have developed solutions integrating both hardware and software and designed for a wide range of ADAS and robotics. For the year ended December 31, 2022, our revenue from products for ADAS applications, and products for robotics and others accounted for 30.2% and 45.1% of our total revenue, respectively.

We serve automotive OEMS, Tier-1 suppliers and customers in a wide range of robotics and other non-automotive industries. In 2022, we served 953 customers, with key customers including Geely Auto, GAC Aion, Great Wall Motor, Xpeng, Lotus and Lucid. Our other major customers include China’s largest automotive OEM and the world’s largest NEV OEM, in terms of sales volume in 2022, according to CIC. In 2022, we sold approximately 57,000 units of our LiDAR products and we sold our LiDAR perception solutions to approximately 200 customers. As of March 31, 2023, 21 automotive OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers had selected our M series products for mass production. We are actively pursuing business relationships with other leading automotive OEMs, both in China and globally. We have established strong bonds with our customers, some of whom are our shareholders.

“Our mission is to make the world safer and smarter by endowing automobiles and robots with perception capabilities superior to human eyes.”