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Metawave -- Intelligent Beamsteering Radar for Autonomous Driving  
Founded: Jan 2017
Status: Private
Source: Semiconductor Times, 11/17
3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
Tel: 650.812.4000

Metawave was founded in 2017 as a spin-out of PARC, a Xerox company, to develop intelligent beamsteering radars for autonomous driving. Metawave has raised $7 million in seed funding from investors including Khosla Ventures, Motus Ventures, and Thyra Global Management, lead investor in the oversubscribed round. The company is located in PARC’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Metawave plans to seek addition funding in 1H’18. The company has 10 employees.

Leveraging adaptive metamaterials and artificial intelligence, Metawave is focused on building intelligent beamsteering radars for autonomous driving. Metamaterials are engineered structures capable of manipulating electromagnetic waves and outperforming traditional circuits. The company is building high-performance radars capable of 3D imaging and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, making autonomous cars safer, smarter, and more connected. In parallel, Metawave is also developing smart beamsteering antennas for 4G and 5G networks. Metawave is backed by a strong IP portfolio exclusively licensed from Xerox PARC.

Unlike cameras or LIDAR, today’s automotive radar can’t discriminate objects, yet they can operate in all-weather conditions. Today’s state-of-the-art automotive radar is based on digital beamforming (DBF), which suffers from poor signal-to-noise ratio and signal processing complexity. They have limited long-range operation, limited field of view, slow performance, and can support high resolution or high signal-to-noise ratio, but not both. In addition, “intelligence” is currently not integrated into today’s radar.

Metawave’s WARLORD (W-Band Advanced Radar for Long-Range Object Recognition and Detection) radar is designed to possess the power of vision, intelligence (through its AI engine) and superior speed compared to today’s best radars, enabling human-like interpretation of the world. WARLORD is an analogue radar, which is inherently fast.

WARLORD mimics a phased array and steers/shapes a highly-directional, pencil beam in the horizontal and vertical directions. But instead of using traditional phase shifters, as in military phased arrays, WARLORD uses proprietary adaptive metamaterials, leveraging leading-edge optimization and control algorithms. WARLORD’s built-in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capability augmented by its AI engine leads to true 3D vision, object discrimination, and predictive analytics.

Metawave’s core AI engine features deep learning and decision-making algorithms augmented by proprietary electromagnetic and radar codes in the backend. The WRATH (WARLORD Radar AI Thinking like Humans) integrates a suite of algorithms including range-Doppler estimation algorithms; clutter and jammer suppression algorithms; object detection and tracking algorithms; and proprietary optimization and deconvolution routines; together with neural nets and a decision-making codebase.

WARLORD can accurately determine the location and speed of all road objects in all-weather conditions and in cluttered environments. In addition, Metawave’s built-in SAR capability, augmented by its core AI engine, is designed to discriminate objects and map out the surroundings in 3D. The AI engine features advanced capabilities including “seeing” around corners; predictive analytics of traffic patterns; platooning; identification of dangerous driving conditions; and preventing road accidents before they can happen, among other features.

For 4G and 5G networks, Metawave’s SABER (Smart Antenna for Beamforming Electromagnetic Radiation) solution directs energy toward a specific user’s device to provide the bandwidth needed to support the desired online experience. SABER’s adjustable beam can be focused and steered in real-time over wide angles and with large bandwidths. The SABER architecture eliminates the need for expensive and power-hungry phase shifters by leveraging adaptive metamaterials.

Metawave’s primary competition is simply digital beam-forming based sensors (used in autos today) and communication arrays. Other phased array (very expensive) and metamaterial antennas are also competitors. Metawave’s advantages include long-range, wide-field-of-view, pencil-beam, and low-cost electronically steerable systems based on an engineered metamaterial structure that uses conventional low-cost material and existing PCB production lines. Metawave’s AI engine also sets it apart from other companies.

A WARLORD demonstration is planned for the end of 2017 with product roll-out summer 2018. Metawave is currently focused on strategically partnering with leading automotive suppliers, top car companies, and innovative organizations in the autonomous driving space.

Maha Achour, Ph.D., Co-founder & CEO (previously CTO of Rayspan, where she commercialized the first Metamaterial antennas and RF font-end subsystems for the cell-phone and WLAN industries)

Bernard Casse, PhD. Co-founder & CTO (10 years experience commercializing fundamental science; pioneered beamsteering technology with his PARC metamaterials applied research team)

George Daniel, VP of Engineering (previously Sr. RF Engineer at Xerox PARC)

Sandy Godsey, Chief Legal Officer and COO

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