Photo of Yifan Li

Artificial intelligence & robotics

Yifan Li

Created lidar products that lead the global autonomous driving industry

Year Honored



Hails From

Yifan Li and his two partners co-founded Hesai Technology in Silicon Valley in 2014 and developed cutting-edge laser-based sensing technology. The company’s LiDAR sensors lead the industry in performance and reliability. Hesai’s flagship LiDAR product, Pandar128, has the highest point cloud density of any mass-produced LiDAR. Hesai’s PandarXT is embedded with self-developed LiDAR chips, which greatly reduces cost. Currently, Hesai’s customer base spans more than 20 countries and regions around the world.

Yifan completed his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where his research focused on inertial sensor-based motion control for robotic systems. After graduation, he worked as a principal engineer at Western Digital. It was during this period that he recognized the growing importance of 3D sensors for robotics.  

Yifan then met his two co-founders and founded Hesai. Within a year of pivoting to LiDAR development, they unveiled China’s first 32‐channel LiDAR, and released a 40-channel production version, Pandar40, in early 2017. In 2018, Hesai released Pandar40P, the world’s first LiDAR with interference rejection, followed by Pandar64 in 2019. According to Hesai, Pandar64 has since captured the largest global market share of primary LiDARs for robotaxis.

Beyond its mechanical LiDAR line, Hesai also invests heavily into the research and development of new, next-generation laser sensor technologies, including hybrid solid-state and solid-state systems that utilize a range of different operating principles.

Hesai has accumulated deep expertise in LiDAR chip development, automotive-grade production, functional safety, interference rejection technology, and LiDAR perception based on deep learning. Hesai has become one of the leading LiDAR developers globally, capturing substantial market share among autonomous driving players.  

Yifan is committed to continually iterating and innovating to ensure Hesai is at the forefront of 3D sensor technology, driven by the ultimate goal of accelerating the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.