Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"Players in Autonomous-Driving Race May Bet on 'Lidar as a Service'"

Hmmmm....Let's hope our "Fleit" manager stays solvent and the Lidar purveyor doesn't flip the switch off for non-payment of the monthly.
From Pitchbook:
Subscription sales have helped countless software companies rack up big-time revenue. Are autonomous-driving technology startups about to borrow a page from that playbook?

After a year that saw lidar startups strike key partnerships and reel in record levels of venture dollars, their next big challenge is turning to a more pedestrian question: How best to structure their basic business model.

Lidar and perception technology startups are now scrambling to dominate the niche driverless-vehicle market. And some of them are being challenged to bundle their hardware and software solution for mass adoption, gain exposure among self-driving automakers and assist them in reducing costs.

Some in the autonomous industry are looking to the way many companies learned to position themselves as cloud-based software providers and scale operations more effectively by securing a steadier revenue stream that is likely to be more resistant to demand cycles than companies offering direct sales. Notable cloud players in the mobility industry include Ride Report for mobility management and Flexport, a freight-logistics platform.

The ongoing trend toward subscription-based business models has trickled down to the lidar industry from the world of logistics automation, where startups have begun employing such models to better serve the capital needs of middle-market customers.

"This subscription model is favorable from a startup investor perspective as it positions startups more toward a full-service, recurring revenue business model as opposed to dependency on cyclical changes in customer capex budgets," said Asad Hussain, an emerging tech analyst at PitchBook.

The first driverless tech player to take the "lidar as a service" plunge is Luminar. Earlier in January, the company made a splash at CES in part because it announced a transition in its revenue modelfrom direct sales to a subscription-based service offered to its self-driving technology partners.

Luminar's shift may end up as a closely watched test case for how startups seek to land deals with future customers.

Founded by Stanford dropout Austin Russell in 2012, the company makes high-resolution perception technology that it says can track road features up to 250 meters away in real-time, read signs, recognize traffic lights and avoid obstacles.

The company has raised more than $250 million in VC financing from investors including Canvas Ventures, The Westly Group and G2VP.

Russell, who also serves as CEO, told PitchBook that Luminar's switch to a subscription-based model comes as a vast majority of self-driving automakers are signaling an interest in subscriptions as a way to support the cost of their autonomous programs rather than shelling out billions of dollars to build those platforms.....MORE
Related:

Autonomous Vehicles: "Velodyne invented modern lidar—it’s about to face real competition"

"Mapped: The Top 263 Companies Racing Toward Autonomous Cars"
Think you know the players?

"Unbundling The Autonomous Vehicle" Who's Who, What's What in the Underlying Technology

Autonomous Vehicles: "Who’s the Lidar IP Leader?"

Autonomous Vehicles: The King of LiDAR

Autonomous Vehicles: Apple Would Like To Buy Some LIDAR Sensors

Izabella Kaminska In Conversation With the Financial Times' Auto Industry Correspondent, Peter Campbell, on the Prospects for Autonomous Vehicles


I just love those little wipers on the Lidar cover.
Low-tech electro-mechanical.
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