- M&A Investment
- Future Unicorn
Founded in 2016, SOSLAD specializes in Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). Four Ph.D. researchers who were working with LiDAR at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) started the company with the ambition to “make the world a safer place with LiDAR.” By late 2020, SOSLAD grew into a company with more than 40 members including researchers holding master’s and doctoral degrees who have worked for major companies including Samsung, Hanwha and Continental. Based on their experience of having developed mechanical LiDAR and MEMS mirror-based LiDAR, SOSLAB researchers have recently succeeded in developing solid-state LiDAR and launched a project for integration on mass-produced cars.
Investment Attraction and Background
Because LiDAR surpasses radars in terms of resolution and range accuracy as well as adapt more flexibly to lighting conditions compared to cameras, it is an essential device in ensuring the performance reliability of level-3 or above autonomous driving. As illustrated in Figure 1, research agency Yole Développement in a report projected the LiDAR market to grow from USD 160 million in 2019 to USD 380 million in 2025, and expected that the market will be driven by the mass purchase of LiDAR devices for the production of self-driving cars.
Having attracted additional investment and successfully developed solid-state LiDAR as of recent, SOSLAB now aims to commercialize and mass produce solid-state LiDAR for integration on cars. In order to complete product refinement, process designing, test, evaluation and certification for product commercialization, SOSLAB now requires experts and facility investment not in R&D but from the perspective of auto parts production. Honda’s luxury sedan Legend with level-3 autonomy was launched on March 5, 2021, and will be followed by BMW and Mercedes Benz planning to introduce level-3 self-driving cars this year. Most global automakers have also announced their plans to release LiDAR-fitted autonomous vehicles from 2022. SOSLAB plans to commercialize solid-state LiDAR as an auto part by targeting mass production in 2025, and it is looking for strategic investors who will support the acceleration of LiDAR mass production.
Merits for Investors
When LiDAR is analyzed from the market perspective, exports foresee that the next-generation LiDAR to be integrated on cars after 2022 will be solid-state LiDAR. Considering LiDAR’s productivity and price competitiveness, the LiDAR devices to be used on cars in 2022 can meet the required performance of OEMs but have structural limitations that make it difficult to satisfy conditions such as size, price and weight. Numerous overseas LiDAR developers are working on solid-state LiDAR, as in the cases of ibeo’s launch of ibeoNEXT and Ouster’s release of ES2, and in the auto part sector, solid-state LiDAR appears on track for commercialization. Since no domestic players have successfully developed solid-state LiDAR, SOSLAB has competitive edge in this area and is expected to preoccupy the market if it prepares commercialization and mass production with the right partner.
Key Strategy and Plans for the Future
By building a partnership with the tier-1 auto part suppliers, SOSLAB plans to put on the market the main module of LiDAR device that scans the surrounding environment and the software for detecting objects based on LiDAR data. SOSLAB is discussing cooperation with Korea’s tier-1 automakers based on its LiDAR system and module designing expertise acquired from having researched and developed LiDAR from 2016; its manufacturing knowhow including the assembly technology for optics alignment and others; and its recognition software, which detects and identifies objects. The initial target is to have SOSLAB’s key module supplied to domestically-produced cars, but in the long-term, SOSLAB envisions to grow as a global supplier of automotive LiDAR by referring to the business strategy of global LiDAR developers and by investigating ways to conclude an IP deal or apply a licensing business model to the key module.
The mass production and supply of automotive LiDAR signifies that sensors are becoming more common and used more diversely in today’s world, like cameras in the past. SOSLAB envisions to grow as a leader of the global LiDAR market by following in the footsteps of other Korean players who are championing areas related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. SOSLAB looks forward to your continued support and interest.
By Jiseong Jeong
CEO, SOSLAB, firstname.lastname@example.org