- Cepton completed a merger with SPAC Growth Capital Acquisition Corp. and began trading on the NASDAQ Capital Markets on February 10, 2022
- Cepton is a maker of next generation lidar technology that has significant advantages over competition
- The company’s MMT(R) technology has been validated by Tier 1 automotive OEMs and earned the company the lidar industry’s biggest contract to date where GM will use Cepton products in its cars equipped with its new Ultra Cruise ADAS
Apart from Tesla, companies are aligning with lidar companies to improve safety in advanced driving technology and position for the seemingly inevitable age of fully autonomous driving. German auto maker Mercedes-Benz has teamed up with Luminar to use its sensors recently, following what to date has been the largest contract in the lidar space when General Motors decided to use the lidar products of Cepton (NASDAQ: CPTN), a company now public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (aka “SPAC”) Growth Capital Acquisition Corp.
The business combination was completed on Thursday, the company has been renamed to Cepton Inc. with the listing made active on the NASDAQ on Friday, February 10, 2022 (NASDAQ: CPTN).
Lidar, which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging,” is fast becoming an integral part of the next generation of vehicles. It uses laser beams, sending them out to bounce off items in the environment and return, then processing the light’s travel times to effectively create a constantly updating map of the surroundings. Debates are ongoing in the industry about what technology is best for cars to traverse about safely with or without a driver, but it is becoming clear that most carmakers are seeing lidar as part of the future.
According to Akis Tsirigakis, CEO of GCAC, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (“ADAS”) and autonomous vehicles are going to use a combination of lidar, cameras, and radar because each has highly complementary qualities to the others. “Think of them as the nose, eyes, and ears of a vehicle,” Tsirigakis recently said in an interview with Gamechangers LIVE with Sergio Tigera. All three technologies work in unison with software and computing power for the best accuracy in identifying and reacting to the environment.
Tsirigakis is a seasoned vet or the SPAC world, with GCAC being his fourth successful blank check deal. As he explains in the interview with Tigera, there is a lot of heavy lifting to find the right company to bring public. He looked at 116 potential targets before deciding upon Cepton as the ideal candidate. Cepton’s management team includes five Stanford PhD’s that have led the company’s development of cutting-edge lidar technology branded MMT(R). MMT(R) lidar in inexpensive compared to competitors, doesn’t use mirrors (like everyone else does) and is motionless and friction-free, providing top of the line range, resolution and power efficiency. Cepton’s design is unparalleled insomuch that its products can be mounted in several locations on a vehicle, including behind the windshield where it is protected from the elements, and does nor affect the design of the car, a feature that makes it particularly attractive for mass markets.
The tech has been validated by Tier 1 automotive OEMs, including Japanese automotive lighting juggernaut Koito, which became a large shareholder in Cepton with a $50 million investment ahead of the public offering. Koito was also responsible for the deal with GM. Pre-merger investors showed a healthy appetite for Cepton, as evidenced by GCAC raising $172.5 million (not including the Koito investment) to bring Cepton public.
Going forward, GM will utilize Cepton lidar in its vehicles equipped with Ultra Cruise, the automaker’s newest version of ADAS launching in 2023. GM is pioneering the ADAS market with Ultra Cruise planned to work on 95% of all North American roadways and be available on most of its models in the coming years. The deal with GM is the largest ever forged in the auto industry to mass market lidar technology. By Cepton’s account, it is more than 10x any other deal so far.
Tsirigakis foresees Cepton lidar used in more than one million vehicles in the near term.
Originally developed by NASA for space applications, potential uses for lidar abound, as it can be used anywhere structure and shape needs to be identified. The auto industry is the low-hanging fruit with expectations for it to become commonplace in the years ahead. It stands to represent a major opportunity in the next progression of big data for collecting real-time information. For instance, a lidar system could be used in traffic signals to monitor traffic, adjusting on the fly depending on traffic flow rather than being tethered to pre-set timers.
Security solution provider Bowler Pons Solutions Consultants, LLC has found a new use for lidar in its business, partnering with Cepton this month to deploy a cutting-edge, lidar-enabled three-dimensional monitoring system. Utilizing the insightful perception capabilities provided by Cepton’s MMT Vista(R)-P sensors as one of multiple sensing modalities, the Maryland-based company has launched a cost-effective, highly adaptable 3D monitoring system that accurately detects, tracks, and classifies objects to assess situations of interest against pre-defined threat characteristics, behaviors, and rule sets via a single fusion and analytics engine.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.Cepton.com.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to CPTN are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CPTN
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