Echodyne raises $29M Series B to bring “radar vision” to autonomous vehicles, drones and machines 23 May 2017 Echodyne Corp announced a$29-million Series B financing led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with Bill Gates, Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital, Lux Capital, The Kresge Foundation and others also participating in the round. Echodyne is applying the physics of metamaterials to deliver radar vision, a combination of high-performance agile imaging radar hardware with computer vision-like software for classification, recognition, and perception.

Echodyne’s patented technology, called MESA (Metamaterial Electronically Scanning Array), produces radar that is orders of magnitude smaller, lighter and more affordable than phased array radar, which has long been considered the pinnacle of radar technology. Echodyne’s patented radar technology operates like phased array radars, electronically steering a high-resolution spot beam instantly around the field of view with no moving parts.

However, MESA fundamentally changes the way the radar antenna array interacts with the source signal to steer the radar beam. In traditional passive and active electronically scanned phased arrays (PESA and AESA), discrete phase shifters embedded in the antenna control the beam direction. MESA, in contrast, does not require phase shifters at the antenna elements. In fact, MESA can steer perfectly without a single phase shifter.

Eliminating phase shifters dramatically reduces system complexity, eliminates primary sources of power loss, and simplifies waste-heat dissipation. MESA’s unique approach nets tremendous savings in cost, size, weight and power (C-SWAP) over traditional arrays. MESA supports all radar methodologies including FMCW and Pulse Doppler and extends across the entire radar frequency spectrum from L to W band.

Also unlike phased arrays, however, Echodyne’s MESA can be produced in high volumes, at commercial price points, and in small lightweight form factors.

Echodyne’s first commercial product is the size of an Amazon Kindle and enables drones to navigate safely as they fly beyond sight of their operator. The sensor can detect and track a Cessna sized airplane or a helicopter at up to 3km, and a DJI Phantom sized drone at 750m. And, since it’s a radar, it can do so in the dark and in adverse environmental conditions (clouds, rain, etc). A shorter range system ideal for autonomous cars and trucks is also in development.