R7 Invests in AEye to Help Hoke Colburn Retire

Jun 13, 2017

About a year ago, one of our partners took their 63 year-old mother for a ride in a self-driving car. During the first few minutes, he drove the car normally and explained what would happen once the “self-drive” mode was activated. He thought she understood, but...boy was he wrong. Once they hit 65 mph and he let go of the steering wheel, she let out a noise that damn near gave him a heart attack. Thank God he wasn’t driving the car, right?

Well, the future of cars is arriving at a rapid pace and it’s not being driven by him, his mother, or even Hoke Colburn. It’s being driven by AEye.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “self-driving” car well before this blog post. And if you’re like our partner’s mother, you have little idea how it works. So let us explain:

Imagine that you’re driving down a highway in Colorado. You see the beautiful blue sky, some mountains in the distance, cars in the opposite lane coming at you, and one car directly in front of you. Pretty typical, right? Now, think for a moment how complex this scene really is. You know that the car directly in front of you possesses the most risk, so you watch it very closely. On occasion, you’re also watching cars that are coming toward you to make sure they stay in their lane. Meanwhile, your eyes may wander and momentarily look at those mountains in the distance. If you think about it, you’re actually watching everything in your view, but since you have a brain, you’re able to decide what’s poses the greatest risk to you while driving. It’s an incredibly complex process, but as drivers, we all take it for granted.

For a car to self-drive, a computer has to simulate the exact same thought process as a human driver. And this is exactly what AEye does. They have developed breakthrough intelligent sensing and perception technology that first scans a scene like a driver’s eyes, focusing on the most relevant content. Then, their system quickly digests this information which greatly improves overall reliability, enabling a new level of safety for operators and passengers of driver-assisted or autonomous vehicles.

In other words, no more driving Miss Daisy for Mr. Colburn!

We invested in AEye’s Series A round alongside a large strategic investor, Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital, Airbus, and a few other firms. You can read more about it here.

We’re proud to be part of AEye and welcome them to our portfolio.