Yet another step towards fully autonomous driving was taken today by BMW as the company announced a new investment in a tech company which will help them out in developing their upcoming models. BMW i Ventures – a subsidiary of the BMW Group focused on investing in next-gen tech – announced today an investment in Blackmore Sensors and Analytics, a US-based company working on lidar technology for the automotive industry.

As we all know by now, development and implementation of fully autonomous driving technology implies usage of hundreds of sensors and a varying amount of lidar systems. On the current Audi A8, for example, a car that claims to be the first in the world capable of Level 3 autonomous driving, there are four lidar systems working, to keep things nice and safe. In the future, advancements in this field will allow companies like BMW to reach Level 4 and 5. That’s why the investment in Blackmore is important, as the company claims to be a leading developer of frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) lidar for the automotive industry.

“Advances in new sensor technologies, like lidar, are going to make cars safer and, eventually, autonomous,” said BMW i Ventures partner Zach Barasz. “Blackmore has unique and innovative FMCW lidar technology that delivers a new dimension of data to future vehicles.” Furthermore, Dr. Randy Reibel, Blackmore’s CEO added: “Having the ability to measure both the speed and the distance to any object gives self-driving systems more information to navigate safely.”

Low-cost lidar sensors are required to enable self-driving vehicles and, in addition to being more cost-effective, Blackmore’s FMCW lidar technology has several competitive advantages over traditional pulsed lidar systems that enable autonomous driving teams to achieve their goals faster. Blackmore will use the investment to scale the production of its FMCW lidar sensor for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving markets.