Beijing-based AI chip startup Horizon Robotics today announced a staggering US$600 million in Series B funding led by South Korea conglomerate SK Group. The investment brings Horizon’s value to an estimated US$3 billion, making it the world’s highest-valued AI chip startup.
Horizon Robotics was founded in 2015 by Kai Yu, who had previously founded and led the Baidu Institute of Deep Learning. While at Baidu, Yu launched a number of high-profile AI projects, including the tech giant’s ambitious autonomous driving platform Apollo. Yu says Horizon Robotics aims to become “the Intel of edge computing.”
In just three years Horizon has hauled in hundreds of millions of dollars from two of the world’s top-three semiconductor providers, Intel and SK. In 2017 Intel Capital led Horizon’s US$100 million A-plus funding round.
Horizon Robotics is going full speed ahead on smart mobility, jockeying for the vanguard in China’s autonomous driving race. In 2017 the company released two chips: Journey 1.0, which enables Level 0 – Level 2 high-performance Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS); and the Sunrise 1.0 processor, which empowers vision processing tasks on edge devices.
Last year the company launched its Horizon Matrix Autonomous Driving Computing Platform to provide high-performance sensing abilities for Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving systems. At CES 2019 Horizon debuted NavNet, a Matrix-based crowdsourcing HD map data collection and positioning solution that leverages LiDAR sensing technology.
As a Tier 1 & 2 supplier, Horizon Robotics has secured a number of key partnerships with top OEMs and Tier 1 companies including Audi, Bosch, Chang’an Automobile, BYD, and SAIC Motor.
The young chipmaker is also exploring the AIoT market (leveraging AI in IoT scenarios). Last year it unveiled Edge AI Cameras, which enable large-scale face detection, tracking, capturing and comparison by integrating the built-in processor Sunrise and deep learning algorithms. Horizon’s XForce platform meanwhile is designed for smart city and smart retail.
Last year Horizon hired prominent Baidu Institute of Deep Learning Scientist Wei Xu as its new Chief Scientist of General AI and expanded its presence in Silicon Valley with a new general AI lab.
Horizon Robotics is listed as one of the 100 most promising private AI companies by CB Insights.
Journalist: Tony Peng | Editor: Michael Sarazen