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Luminar Acquires Lidar Chip Partner

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Acquisition of InGaAs photodetector specialist OptoGration enables deeper integration with chip design subsidiary Black Forest Engineering

Luminar Technologies is acquiring its InGaAs chip design partner and manufacturer, OptoGration Inc., bringing specialised core IP and securing supply chain as Luminar scales Iris into series production with its OEM customers.

The acquisition secures a key part of Luminar's supply chain and enables deeper integration with its existing chip design subsidiary Black Forest Engineering (BFE), which Luminar acquired in 2017. Luminar is combining the latest technology from Optogration and BFE to power its new fifth-generation lidar chip in Iris as the company prepares for series production of its product and technology.

For the past five years, Luminar has been closely collaborating with OptoGration, developing, iterating, and perfecting the specialised InGaAs photodetector technology that is required for 1550nm lidar. OptoGration has capacity to produce approximately one million InGaAs chips with Luminar's design each year at their specialised fabrication facility in Wilmington, Mass, with the opportunity to expand to up to ten million units per year capacity.

“Acquiring OptoGration is the culmination of a deep, half-decade long technology partnership that has dramatically advanced the proprietary lidar chips that power the industry-leading performance of our newest Iris sensor,” said Jason Eichenholz, co-founder and CTO at Luminar. “The OptoGration team is unique in their ability to deliver photodetectors with the performance and quality that achieve our increasingly demanding requirements. Chip-level innovation and integration has been key to unlocking our performance and driving the substantial cost reductions we've achieved.”

Luminar combines its InGaAs photodetector chips from Optogration with silicon ASICs, produced by BFE, to create its lidar receiver and processing chip, which is the most sensitive, highest dynamic range InGaAs receiver of its kind in the world. It is able to acquire and process gigabits of precise data per second to produce optimal lidar data. The fifth generation proprietary chip is now powering Luminar's Iris sensor. Iris is the only system to meet the stringent performance, safety, scalability, and economic requirements to enable autonomous driving in series production vehicles.

OptoGration's founders are joining Luminar as part of this transaction and will continue to lead the business with support from Luminar.

“Luminar is a great home for OptoGration because we share a vision for transforming automotive safety and autonomy with lidar,” said William Waters, President of OptoGration. “We also share a commitment to continuous innovation and have an incredible track record of combining our technologies to increase performance and lower cost. Together we can go even faster to scale and realize Luminar's vision.”

The OptoGration acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter. The transaction price was not disclosed but does not represent a material impact to Luminar's cash position or share count.

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