Nio Capital, the investment division of Chinese electric vehicle start-up Nio, has backed a US$30m fund-raising round for the commercialisation of Silicon Valley startup Innovusion’s radar technology for autonomous vehicles.

Nio Capital led a Series A funding involving also F-Prime Capital, China’s Eight Roads Ventures, Gaorong Capital and other strategic investors, according to Innovusion.

Los Altos-based Innovusion, established in 2016, will use the funds to put into production its Cheetah laser-based radar guidance system (LiDAR), which uses sensor technology to help vehicles detect and analyse what is around them.

Innovusion said “Cheetah is the world’s first image-grade LiDAR system to support level 4+ autonomous driving solution” (fully autonomous under certain operating conditions).

The system is said to be able to detect objects more than 200 meters away and generate an exceptionally dense point cloud of 300 lines, more than double that of competing systems. The company says it features a combination of image-grade resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio which is required for long-distance detection.

Innovusion said it is now ready to accept orders for the Cheetah system from customers worldwide. It had already shipped samples of the system to potential customers in the US and China during the second quarter of 2018.

Innovusion CEO and co-founder Junwei Bao said: “LiDAR technology is critical for accelerating the adoption and deployment of autonomous vehicles and we look forward to working with providers and manufacturers to ensure their solutions are supported with technology for superior range and resolution.”