Innoviz Announced Operational Realignment

Photo above: Test cars in Innoviz’ lab. Credit: Techtime

Innoviz Technologies announced a strategic realignment of its operations to expand the Company’s cash runway and optimize its path towards cash flow generation. The realignment includes the reduction of the Company’s headcount by approximately 13%, the transition of InnovizOne LiDAR sensor into series production and the concentration of future investments on the InnovizTwo sensor and software platform. In late 2022, Innoviz employed approximately 470 employees. It means it reduces its workforce by 60 jobs.

As a result, Innoviz expects to reduce its 2024 planned cash outlays by $22-24 million on an annualized basis. Cash savings are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2024 with run rate savings expected to be achieved by the end of the second quarter of 2024.  Omer Keilaf, Innoviz Co-Founder and CEO, said there is a market capture window that will determine the market share of the LiDAR industry for the next decade.

“Today’s actions are the result of a thoughtful process to optimize the Company’s cost structure, increase our competitive positioning, and extend our cash runway through the expected remainder of the market capture window. Looking ahead, we remain confident in our ability to achieve our long-term goals and become a market leader in automotive LiDAR.”

Innoviz is a Tier 1 supplier of LiDAR sensors and perception software for the automotive industry and works with partners cross the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The company is traded in NASDAQ in a valuation of $ 282 millions. Its stock price is very low compared with it orinigal valuation of $ 1.4 billion (December 2020), following delays in the adoption of LiDAR technology across the automotive industry.

During CES 2024 last month in Las Vegas, BMW Group brought the new BMW i7 with level 3 autonomous driving capabilities enabled by the InnovizOne LiDAR is now available to order in Germany with deliveries expected to begin March 2024. Volkswagen showd its light commercial vehicle program VW ID. Buzz, utilizing InnovizTwo LiDAR for level 4 autonomous capabilities.

“LiDAR market will be a ‘Winner takes Most'”

Photo above: Omer Keilaf, Innoviz Co-Founder and CEO

The Tier-1 direct supplier of high-performance, automotive grade LiDAR sensors and perception software,  Innoviz Technologies, announced that its Revenues in Q3 2023 were $3.5 million, up 138% compared to revenues of $1.5 million in Q2 2023 and up 297% compared to revenues of $0.9 million in Q3 2022. The increase in revenues was driven by strong growth in InnovizTwo unit sales, which increased 102% sequentially.

Two major programs have moved to high gear during the quarter: BMW began shipping production units of its InnovizOne LiDAR sensor components to its first generation program. “We worked closely with the teams at Magna and BMW to complete testing and lock the final version of the software that will be installed on BMW 7 vehicles in the coming weeks,” said Omer Keilaf, Innoviz Co-Founder and CEO. “While the 7 Series was always planned to be our initial flagship launch for the InnovizOne, our technology was certified on several models and variants within the BMW Group, and our efforts are now shifting towards integration with additional models.”

Autonomous Shuttle with 6 LiDAR Sensors

The other development is a progress in a promising shuttle program with a leading automotive supplier, who had decided to change the platform from a four-LiDAR configuration to a six-LiDAR configuration. Keilaf: “We expect this program to be fully driverless (Level 4) electric vehicle capable of carrying over 20 passengers and the ability to operate 24 hours a day. The earliest applications are likely to be people movers in environments like airports, college campuses, private communities, and corporate campuses.

“This opens it up to urban centers and possibly even suburban environments where it could become a lower cost or much more flexible alternative to legacy public transportation models. In the initial stages, the shuttles can complement existing bus and train transportation systems, possibly linking different modes of transportation together or connecting otherwise uneconomical routes. Over time, it’s not hard to imagine the autonomous routes increasingly dislocating the legacy routes as adoption grows.”

They don’t know how much they don’t know

Keilf said that the BMW 7 program is a milestone for Innoviz and for the entire intustry as well: “It sends a strong signal to other OEMs that we can reach SOP (Start of Production) and hit our goals and milestones. It also differentiates us from our competition: There are a number of other LiDAR companies out there claiming to compete with us in automotive LiDAR space. But some don’t have even a single series production award yet. And some have awards but have yet to execute on SOP-related milestones. From our experience, those who haven’t executed on these milestones don’t even know how much they don’t know at this point.

“We already have BMW and Volkswagen Group as customers, and they collectively represent 15% of global automotive production. If we can secure just one or two more major OEMs as customer and we will have a substantial lead, since we believe the LiDAR market will ultimately be a ‘winner takes most’ industry. There are primarily two or three main platforms that everyone is using, either it’s NVIDIA or Mobileye or Qualcomm. We are very familiar with all of these platforms. Some of our work with these platform players is in order to learn about their hardware accelerators, so we can make use of them as best as possible.”

Innoviz updated its forecast to $6.9 billion sales

Above: Next-Generation of the Automotive-Grade LiDAR system, InnovizTwo

Following a new customer win in Asia, Innoviz Technologies, updated its forward-looking order book up to $6.9 billion, compared with $4 billion forecast approximately a year ago. The new customer is an emerging global EV manufacturer who selected InnovizTwo LiDAR sensor for its series production of passenger vehicles, starting 2024. In this deal, Innoviz will act as a Tier 1 supplier of the LiDAR solutions.

During the third quarter of 2022, Innoviz moved its corporate headquarters to a new facility in Rosh Ha’ayin (near Tel aviv). The move included improvements of the Israel-based production lines and “eliminating a key bottleneck in the overall production process” that will enable more InnovizOne units to be sold into non-automotive markets beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022 and ramping into 2023. As part of this process Innoviz has moved to the D-sample stage, which is the final step before the start of production in the Automotive industry.

Currently, Innoviz’s first high-end automotive LiDAR, InnovizOne is produced on two parallel production lines. The first is the production line in Holly, MI, which is owned by Magna and is serving the BMW program for the upcoming 2023 BMW 7 Series. The second is a production line at a contract manufacturer in Germany, which serves to support the autonomous shuttle program with a leading tier-1 automotive supplier and other customers.

The deal also marks the Company’s first production win with a new technology partner. According to rumors in the industry, Innoviz now has production wins with Mobileye and Qualcomm – two of the industry’s three major autonomous driving technology platform partners. The third one is NVIDIA. According to Omer Keilaf, CEO of Innoviz, the company now has 11 OEMs in the RFI and RFQ process, which collectively produce approximately 40 million vehicles per year. It also expects an additional 1-3 new decisions by OEMs in the next six months.

Innoviz and Sol Chip to assist Digital Transformation of Japan’s Postal Service

Japan Post will use the technologies of the Israeli companies Innoviz and Sol Chip, to accelerate its digital transformation and to assist in its efforts to minimize the carbon footprint of its operations. Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor will be used by Japan Post to compose digital maps of its mail delivery and parcel routes, which will be the future infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. Sol chip’s IoT chip, fed merely by the sun energy, will assist the post company in real time monitoring of parcel location and make the process of deliveries collection more efficient. 

Japan Post is a private corporation, supervised by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of  Communication. In addition to postal services, it provides banking services, insurance and logistics. The cooperation of the two Israeli companies with Japan Post was promoted by the early-stage venture firm, Scrum Ventures, which promotes collaborations between start-ups and Japanese corporations, especially in the field is Smart City. 

Within the frame of the collaboration with Innoviz, Japan Post will install InnovizOne LiDAR sensors on their postal delivery cars. During the ride, the sensors will gather information regarding changes in roads and buildings along delivery routes and based on this information the system will generate a  regional 3D image. Later, this information will be used for the construction of 3D maps that will generate smart city services such as autonomous driving and unmanned delivery. Innoviz and Japan Post carried out a Proof Of Concept (POC), and are preparing for the initiation of the project. This is one of the first projects where LiDAR sensors are used for 3D mapping.  

Harvest energy from the sun 

Sol Chip Company was founded in 2009 by Dr. Shani Keysar and developed solar micro-battery providing energy for wireless and mobile IoT devices. The battery “harvests” its energy from the sun light and is intended to provide clean alternative to traditional chemical batteries. The solution is composed of solar cell, battery and energy management chip that provides the ability to operate low-consumption devices such as wireless sensors and similar devices. 

The chip includes a designated communication components that sends and receives data from the cloud, where the data is processed with AI-based algorithm for further insights construction. Within the cooperation with Japan Post, Sol Chip’s devices will also provide telemetry data for consumers.


The LiDAR Coalition Against Elon Musk

Above: Omer David Keilaf, CEO and Co-Founder of Innoviz (left) and Elon Musk

Two of the world’s experts in safety LiDAR technologies, established a new industrial group aiming to promote the deployment of lidar-based intelligent infrastructure and automotive safety technology. Ted Tewksbury, CEO of California-based Velodyne Lidar, and Omer David Keilaf, CEO and Co-Founder of Israel-based Innoviz Technologies, along with AEye, Cepton, Continental, Ouster and Quanergy Systems inaugurated last month The Lidar Coalition activity in a coordinated effort to convince decision and policy makers to adopt broad lidar deployment.

Tewksbury and Keilaf published a letter on Auto Jobs Now to explain the motived of the new advocacy group: “In recent years we have seen a tragic rise in pedestrian fatalities on our nation’s roadways. Public awareness campaigns and enforcement can only go so far in stemming the tide — we must embrace innovative technologies to prevent crashes and reverse this trend. This is why we are forming the Lidar Coalition, a global group of companies that, through U.S. policy advocacy, is dedicated to deployment of lifesaving technology that has the most potential to prevent harm to vulnerable road users.

3D map of the surrounding environment

“According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. jumped by 46 percent to 6,516 in 2020 from 4,457 in 2011. Even more alarming, the most recent statistics from NHTSA project that 42,915 people died on U.S. roadways in 2021, the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the highest annual percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 13 percent over 2020, which outpaced the 10.5% increase in overall fatalities.”

Nightlife LiDAR image produced by Innoviz' sensor
Nightlife LiDAR image produced by Innoviz’ sensor

Light Detection and Ranging, or “lidar,” is a remote sensing method that uses pulsed light to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment. Lidar is an important component in emerging transportation technologies including smart infrastructure, traffic management, autonomous vehicles (“AV”), advanced driver assist systems (“ADAS”), and many other applications. According to the letter, “Light Detection and Ranging, or lidar, can “see” at the speed of light and in all lighting conditions, including at dusk and at night.

“LiDAR ‘a fool’s errand'”

The biggest opponent of the The Lidar Coalition is Tesla’s owner, Elon Musk, known also as a vocal opposer of LiDAR. “It’s a crutch that will drive companies to a local maximum that they will find very hard to get out of,” He said during February 2018 earnings call. “Perhaps I am wrong, and I will look like a fool. But I am quite certain that I am not.” In April 2019 he gave a presentation on Tesla’s autonomous driving project,  calling LiDAR “a fool’s errand”.

He said: “LIDAR can be incredibly expensive, and it’s a costly bet for most companies. They can make the job of selling self-driving cars to customers practically impossible thanks to the added costs. But companies that use LIDAR are already working on reducing those costs. “They are expensive sensors that are unnecessary.”

But on May 20, 2021, a Tesla Model Y was spotted driving the roads equipped with a LiDAR sensor system on its roof. In October 2021 a similar rig was observed at Illinois. Did he change his mind? There has been no official explanation from Tesla regarding this interesting issue, although unofficial commentators have guessed that Tesla is using LiDAR in order to train its vision cameras, and not to control its own Autonomous Driving Suite.

Innoviz Co-founder stepped down and left the company

Above: Oren Rosenzweig (left) and Tali Chen

Innoviz Technologies, announced a series of management team appointments. Oren Rosenzweig, Co-founder of the company, is stepping down from his position as Chief Business Officer and Board roles, effective immediately, to pursue new opportunities. Rosenzweig will continue in an active advisory role through summer 2022. He is replaced by Tali Chen, which will oversee the Company’s business development activities, establish sales targets and KPIs, and implement, report and review strategic sales and marketing plans.

Chen most recently served as CBO for DSP Group, a provider of semiconductors for wireless communications devices. DSPG  was acquired by Synaptics in December 2, 2021 for $549 million. Prior to her tenure at DSP Group, Chen served in corporate development roles for RADA Electronics, a global provider of avionics and Military radar systems.

Based in Rosh Hayeen (near Tel Aviv), Innoviz provides LiDAR technologies and perception software for the Automotive industry. A month ago the company announced that one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world has selected Innoviz to become its direct LiDAR supplier across multiple brands. The selection follows more than two years of extensive diligence and qualification, and will increase Innoviz’s forward-looking order book by $4 billion to $6.6 billion.

Innoviz also announced the appointments of Scott Craig and Brijesh Shukla as country managers of the U.S. and Japan, respectively. Craig brings decades of experience in the semiconductor and automotive industries, previously serving at onsemi where he was responsible for OEM business development at Ford Motor Company worldwide, Stellantis and Argo – worldwide. Shukla brings twenty years of experience in direct customer-facing roles for companies such as Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Mitsubishi.

According to Fact.MR, The global automotive LiDAR market expected to reach a valuation of US$ 3 Bn by 2031, with sales growing at a 19.5% CAGR, compared with $43o million in 2021. Based on technology, the solid-state LiDAR segment will account for 60% of the total market share. Increasing sales of autonomous vehicles will spur demand for automotive LiDAR systems.

BMW launched series 7 with Innoviz’s sensor inside

Following joint efforts lasted 4 years, Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor arrives to the market with the new BMW 7 series. Last week, the German car maker launched the new generation of its luxury cars, expected to be available at November 2022. The new series includes gas-powered cars, hybrid cars and – for the first time – an all electric model, BMW i7, equipped with a battery expected to range to 300 miles at each charge.  

Starting at 2023, the new 7 series will be BMW’s first to incorporate the Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor, a sensor defined by BMW as “the most powerful sensor in the industry”. BMW market the new models as the cutting edge technology, regarding driver safety and assistance applications, autonomous driving, integrated augmented reality and digitization. Innoviz’s sensor is considered a key component in the sensors array that support these applications, together with full-range radar with vertical separation, and an eight-megapixel windshield camera.   

In March 2022, Omer Keilaf, Innoviz’s CEO, revealed that the sensor developed for BMW has reached to the design freeze phase, after successfully passing all examinations. This means that from that moment, no changes are allowed to the BMW approved plan, and it will be produced in its current design. Mass production is expected already at 2022.

The car drives better than you

As part of its pre-launch marketing, BMW invited bloggers and leading automotive reporters for a test drive of the new models, which led to reviews and columns in leading industry websites such as Drive, Which Car, HT Auto, Forbes and more. One of the testers was “The Drive” reporter Chris Tsui. In its article “BMW Joins the Hands-Free Driving Fight”, Tsui was impressed by the ADAS and the autonomous driving systems relied on Innoviz’s sensor, and summarized the experience: “BMW’s latest flagship sedans are probably better at driving than you are”. He also noted that the semi-autonomous tech and improved self-parking capabilities make the car “more like a machine driver rather than a machine meant to be driven”.

The i7 model includes Level 2 hands-on Assisted Driving applications, assuring rendition of adaptive cruise with lane-keep. Below 85 mph, hands-off semi-autonomous highway cruising mode can be used, similar to Tesla’s Autopilot mode. In this mode, the car performs the steering, accelerating, and braking activities autonomously, with the driver required to keep looking at the road without holding the wheel. The system is also capable of autonomously move from one lane to the other. When approaching a highway exit, the driver may instruct the system to automatically move gradually from one line to the other, as long as the traffic is not too heavy or the exit is too close.   

Self navigation into your home garage

BMW announced that in the future it will provide the level-3 autonomy at these models, at up to 37 mph, and also in non-highway roads. For this type of autonomy, the Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor is essential. Commentators from the automotive industry estimate that this capability will be highly attractive at the Chinese market, where the average speed within urban areas is relatively low due to traffic loads.  

Tsui go on and reviews the new model’s autonomous parking capabilities, and says he never encountered such superior capabilities. Although the BMW 7 series vehicles are fairly large, the orientation and maneuvering capabilities allow the car to park even in challenging parking spots. In addition, it is possible to program a route in advance, so the car will automatically navigate, for example, from the gate through the driveway and park itself in the garage. This function can be performed even when the driver is outside the car. “This could very well become among the best in the business, a more-than-worthy competitor to GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot”.