Horizon Robotics raises up to $1 billion to address facial biometric and autonomous vehicle markets

Horizon Robotics has raised up to $1 billion in a Series B funding round which values the company at between $3 billion and $4 billion, the Financial Times reports. The funding round for the Intel-backed company includes investment from an international chip company, Senior Business Development Manager Stone Li said.

Previous investors in Horizon include Hill House Capital, Sequoia Capital, Yuri Milner and Sinovation Ventures.

The company is benefiting from China’s push to reduce its reliance on imported semiconductors, which the Financial Times reports it spends more on than oil. The state-owned SMIC is still producing chips multiple generations behind those of Taiwan’s TSMC or Intel.

Horizon says that one of its chips runs facial recognition algorithms for on-camera matching from databases storing up to 50,000 faces at the edge. In another project, the company is developing self-driving cars in the Eastern Chinese city of Wuxi in partnership with Audi.

“You can debate how many cars will be self-driving by when,” Mark Li, semiconductor analyst at Bernstein Research, told the Financial Post. “In my view it will be a while, but along the way you will have more and more self-driving functions in the cars — and in addition some chips could be used elsewhere, like facial recognition surveillance.”

The investment climate for Chinese AI may be cooling, but some companies in the industry continue to raise billions, according to the report.

UBS estimates that the market for shifting AI from the cloud to devices will generate $15 billion by 2021.

Horizon launched a new line of cameras with embedded facial recognition technology earlier this year.

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