Xiaomi led $70 million investment in LiDAR unicorn Hesai

November 16, 2021 7:42 pm

Shanghai-based company Heisai Technology announced today on its WeChat account that it has bagged $70 million from Chinese smartphone and IoT giant Xiaomi in Series D + round funding.

In June, Hesai just brought in $300 million in Series D round led by Hillhouse, Xiaomi, food delivery giant Meituan, and CPE, the private equity platform of Citic.

The new proceeds from D round and D+ round will be spent on supporting the company’s mass production and deliveries of solid-state laser sensors, the construction of a smart manufacturing center, and R&D of auto-grade high-performance LiDAR chips.

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, which uses laser pulses to build a 3D model of the environment around the car. Essentially, they help autonomous vehicles “see” other objects.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk famously said any company relying on LiDAR is “doomed.” Tesla instead believes automated driving functions are built on visual recognition.

Instead, Chinese tech companies and EV manufactures are betting on the LiDAR sector. A bunch of  EV makers has chosen LiDAR as their solution. This camp includes Nio, XPeng, and WM Motor, etc.

As for Hesai’s investor Xiaomi, in March, it officially confirmed it was making a foray into China’s electric vehicle space. The company aims to inject an initial 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion) into a wholly-owned subsidiary with the total investment amount to reach $10 billion over the next ten years.