Zendar: High-Resolution Automotive Radar

Delivering the next generation of vehicle radar sensors for enhanced safety and autonomous navigation

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While radar has historically been associated with aviation, the technology has been utilized by automotive manufacturers since the late ‘90s in a number of safety features. Radar sensors are used for convenience features, such as adaptive cruise control; and in critical safety systems, including collision avoidance and emergency braking systems. Beyond these applications in conventional passenger vehicles, radar development has grown dramatically with the advent of commercially available autonomous vehicles and autopilot-like systems.

Alumni Ventures portfolio company Zendar has developed a high-resolution radar sensor that will help automakers create safer conventional cars, SUVs, and trucks, while also ensuring autonomous vehicles navigate roads and highways safely.

An Evolution of Radar Technology

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, two technologies are typically employed to help vehicles measure distance to objects in the environment: lidar and conventional radar. Lidar uses lasers which are hampered by inclement weather conditions, such as rain and snow. Because of this, lidar is generally paired with conventional radar sensors, which function well across a wide range of weather conditions but lack the high resolution of lidar.

Zendar’s technology bridges this gap between all-weather reliability and high-resolution sensors. Its technology provides up to 20-times higher resolution than conventional radar. Critically, it delivers lidar-like resolution at a reasonable cost — an important factor when equipping fleets of vehicles.

Zendar’s solution also improves the effective field of vision, which has challenged existing automotive radars’ narrow, fixed fields of view. Unlike other radar innovations, which focus exclusively on hardware, Zendar’s product is software-based. This allows it to seamlessly combine with other technologies and sensors in order to maximize the navigation capabilities of autonomous systems.

What We Like About Zendar

Large Market Potential: Morningstar forecasts that the total market for advanced driver assistance and automated driver systems will grow from $15.2 billion in 2020 to $75.4 billion in 2030 through sales of global autonomous vehicle software, sensors, and other hardware revenue.

Established Lead Investor: Zendar is backed by several established investors, including Khosla Ventures, a well-known VC, which has re-invested in each of Zendar’s rounds since the company’s seed raise.

Customer Traction: Zendar has more than two years of collaboration experience with a leading autonomous vehicle company, which has already purchased engineering samples and successfully verified performance. Zendar is in the process of establishing joint development agreements (JDAs) with leading OEMs and Tier 1s. They have also been working with autonomous tractor manufacturers to expand the reach of their innovative radar system beyond the automotive ADAS space.

How We Are Involved

Blue Ivy (for the Yale community) sponsored Alumni Ventures’ investment in Zendar, alongside sibling funds Congress Avenue (for the UTexas community), Nassau Street (for the Princeton community), and AV’s Total Access Fund and Deep Tech Fund. Together, the funds deployed capital in Zendar’s $12 million Series B led by Khosla Ventures.

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Contact [email protected] for additional information. To see additional risk factors and investment considerations, visit av-funds.com/disclosures.