AEye Inc., a startup that makes lidar systems for self-driving vehicles, is going public by merging with blank-check company CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III in a deal valued at $2 billion.
The merger will net $455 million in cash for AEye, which the company will use to further develop its lidar and software systems. AEye is banking on growth in systems like General Motors’ Super Cruise assisted-driving system and, eventually, self-driving cars.
Lidar is a technology using laser-based sensors that allow a car’s computer to “see” its surroundings. The deal shows that investors still have interest in companies working on self-driving technology. Capital is still flowing into autonomous technology, but has tightened up in the past year as it has become more apparent that it may take longer for cars to truly drive themselves.
Zoox Inc. sold to Amazon.com Inc. when cash became more scarce, and autonomous trucking startup Starsky Robotics went out of business last year after failing to raise money.