A fledgling lidar startup is launching out of stealth today, backed by more than $30 million in investors’ money. San Francisco-based Ouster has officially unveiled its OS1 lidar, which it said represents a “step-change in lidar sensing technology” compared to what is currently available elsewhere on the market, with “marked improvements in mass, form factor, and power requirements.”

Ouster said that in addition to improvements in form factor and power requirements, its 64-channel lidar sensor, which is shipping now, also matches the resolution of the highest performing automotive lidar technology available today.

Above: Installing an OS1 on an Ouster vehicle

By way of a quick recap, lidar is a method of surveying the environment with laser-powered light, often used to make high-resolution maps. Many self-driving cars scan the environment using lidar, which allows the vehicle to get a sense of what’s around it and avoid obstacles. This is tricky and perilous at high speeds on busy roads, especially when poor lighting and bad weather is at play, so the need for high-quality cameras and sensors on autonomous vehicles is paramount.

Ouster was founded in early 2016 by CEO Angus Pacala and CTO Mark Frichtl, and the startup has been operating under the lidar radar in the nearly two years since.

“The company has maintained a low-profile for over two years — staying heads-down and focusing on getting the OS1 ready to ship,” noted Pacala. “I’m incredibly proud of our team for their hard work to produce the most advanced, practical, and scalable LIDAR sensor on the market, and…

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