A new startup established by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is developing a new generation of radar-based surveillance technology, with the 24-year-old himself recently confirming the existence of his latest business endeavor. In a statement emailed to The New York Times over the weekend, Luckey asserted that the innovation in the defense sector is too slow relative to the constantly increasing amount of money that the United States is spending on national security on an annual basis. Due to that state of affairs, Luckey believes that there is a lot of room in the industry for another player whose business model revolves around providing a product that's more efficient to that of its competitors.
Lucky's company is essentially developing an alternative to physical walls as it's said to be working on a surveillance technology that utilizes lidars, surveying solutions that illuminate environments with pulsed laser light, then use laser return times and other associated data to create 3D maps. The same technology currently serves as the backbone for many self-driving vehicle startups and is also at the center of a high-profile legal dispute between Alphabet's Waymo and Uber over trade secrets, though its applications span a much wider variety of industries. According to recent reports, the technology developed by Luckey's Southern California startup should be able to tell people and drones from wildlife and ideally be an efficient tool for border security. The wording of Luckey's latest comment on the matter indicates that this lidar-based surveillance tech is primarily intended to be licensed to the U.S. government.
President Trump's technology advisor Peter Thiel is reportedly looking to back the new company with his investment fund, though it's currently unclear whether Luckey managed to secure more investors. With a net worth of approximately $700 million, Luckey would likely be able to fund his latest venture even without external help, though that isn't likely to happen. The famous American entrepreneur hasn't been in the public spotlight for a while now, following 2016 reports that he donated money to an anti-Hillary Clinton organization in the run-up to last year's U.S. presidential election, something that didn't sit well with many individuals and companies in the traditionally liberal tech industry in the country. The ordeal ultimately led to his departure from Facebook in March, with the Facebook-owned company avoiding to officially clarify on the matter.