A big reason that Light was able to attract so much funding is the promise of robots, drones and, especially, self-driving cars. Light uses complex algorithms to combine images from multiple camera modules into a single, high-quality image with depth. Son, who has made big bets on Uber, Asia’s Grab and GM’s self-driving unit Cruise, quickly saw Light’s application in autonomous vehicles as a potential replacement to lidar, Grannan said. Light’s technology is lighter and cheaper than lidar, which helps self-driving cars see where they are going, but would need to be adapted to the automotive space.
“By our second meeting in Tokyo, he said, ‘Where I believe this has the most value is in autonomous driving,’ ” Grannan said. “We were like, ‘Oh, wow.’ Applying it to automotive hadn’t been a thought of ours.