Aeva Technologies Inc on Tuesday said it has partnered with Nikon Corp to use Aeva's three-dimensional mapping sensors for industrial measurement tools, the sensor company's first foray outside self-driving cars.
Founded by former Apple Inc and Nikon veterans, Aeva has developed a lidar sensor that helps self-driving cars map out the world for hundreds of meters around them.
But Aeva has also said that it believes the same sensors it develops for cars can be reprogrammed for other markets, including applications where the sensor maps objects at much closer range but with greater precision.
The Nikon deal is the first example. Nikon has a division that makes tools used by automakers such as BMW to create high-precision three-dimensional scans of cars during the manufacturing process to check for any defects or quality control problems.
The scanning machines are large - they look like a large bucket swinging around the vehicle on a robotic arm - and can cost US$100,000 or more.
Aeva believes its technology will be smaller and cheaper than existing industrial sensors.
Aeva Chief Executive Soroush Salehian said the aim is to enable automakers, and eventually other manufacturers that need to check the accuracy of three-dimensional products, to use more of the measuring tools on the factory line to check for defects in a greater number of places.
"Because the costs are lowered, we can broaden adoption," he said. "The idea is that any manufacturing line in the future can have these devices to ensure its quality."
The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal but said Nikon aims to release the first product based on Aeva's sensor by 2025.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis San Francisco; Editing by Sam Holmes)