Volvo is Partnering with Silicon Valley Startup Luminar on Lidar for its Self-Driving Vehicles
【Summary】Silicon Valley lidar startup Luminar has entered into a partnership with Volvo Cars to supply its lidar perception technology for the automaker’s next-generation self-driving vehicles. Luminar’s partnership with Volvo will support the automaker’s self-driving technology for highway driving called “Highway Pilot.”
Lidar is an important technology for self-driving cars. The demand for advanced lidar has led to a new crop of startups emerging to develop the laser-based perception technology for the auto industry.
One of the most promising of these new lidar startups is Silicon Valley startup Luminar Technologies. Now the company has been chosen by Swedish automaker Volvo Cars to supply its lidar perception technology for the automaker's next-generation self-driving vehicles. Luminar's partnership with Volvo will support the automaker's first fully self-driving technology for highways called "Highway Pilot."
In addition to the Highway Pilot feature, Volvo Cars and Luminar are also exploring LiDAR's role in improving advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Volvo and Luminar's relationship goes back to 2018 when Volvo announced its new Volvo Cars Tech Fund aimed at investing in high-potential technology start-ups in Silicon Valley and around the globe. The goal of the fund was to invest in strategic technology trends and startups that are transforming the automotive industry. The fund's first investment was Luminar.
Volvo also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.
The Swedish automaker said its next-generation SPA 2 modular electric vehicle architecture will come hardware-ready for autonomous driving starting in 2022, with the Luminar's LiDAR integrated into the roof. Eventually, Volvo said that all future SPA2-based cars may come with a LiDAR sensor as standard equipment.
Lidar is an acronym for "light detection and ranging." It's considered an essential sensor for self-driving cars. Lidar bounces millions of laser beams off objects, which are reflected back to provide a 3D, 360 degree representation of the surroundings, including other vehicles, pedestrians and buildings. Lidar essentially creates a temporary, real-time map that autonomous vehicles can use for navigation without requiring internet connectivity.
When lidar combined with other vehicles sensors such as cameras and radar, lidar acts as the "eyes" of an autonomous car, detecting objects on the road ahead.
However, lidar technology is not just for self-driving vehicles. It is an important sensor for the latest advanced driver assist systems, which include safety features such as adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane keep assist and automatic braking systems.
"Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. "Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction."
Luminar developed a low-cost lidar that can detect dark objects like a black car in the road up to 250 meters away. The lidar is also small enough to be integrated into the roof or front bumper of a vehicle during production.
To enable Volvo's optional Highway Pilot feature, Luminar's perception technology will be combined with the autonomous driving hardware and software suite, which includes cameras and radar to support fully-autonomous highway driving.
Luminar's lidar will be mounted in the roof of Volvo's vehicles.
Initially, customers wanting the optional autonomous driving features can have their vehicles updated with over-the-air software, the same way that Tesla updates its vehicles. Volvo's Highway Pilot fully-automated driving feature using the Luminar lidar will be activated based on individual geographic locations and conditions for added safety, Volvo said.
"Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," said Green. "At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction."
Luminar's CEO Austin Russell is a Silicon Valley wunderkind. He was 17 years old when he founded the company in 2012 with a vision to develop more advanced lidar for autonomous vehicles. He briefly attended Stanford University, but left to accept a coveted Thiel Fellowship. Russell received a $100,000 award from the foundation to focus full time on Luminar and now that work has paid off.
For Luminar, partnering with Volvo Cars represents the company's first delivery of its technology into series production.
"Volvo is recognized as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardization across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies," said Russell. "The next era of safety lies within autonomous driving and once again, Volvo has taken the lead with a major industry milestone. We've solved the key cost, performance, and auto-grade challenges to make series production possible, and alongside Volvo are making the technology available to the world."
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
Volkswagen to Speed Up the Development of EVs & Digital Services as Part of its Updated 'ACCELERATE' Strategy
San Francisco Startup Ample Develops an EV Battery Swap Station that Can Replace Any Electric Vehicle Battery in Under 10 Minutes
General Motors is Looking to Build a Second Electric Vehicle Battery Plant in the U.S.
China’s Tesla Challenger Xpeng Launches 3 New EV Variants Powered by Cobalt-free, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Batteries
Volkswagen’s New ID. Family of EVs Will Receive Over-the-Air Updates Every Three Months
China’s Tech Giant Baidu Registers a New ‘Intelligent EV Company’ with Automaker Geely
Volvo Cars Announces it Will Only Offer Fully-Electric Vehicles by 2030
Electric-Performance Brand Polestar to Open 15 New U.S. Retail Showrooms in 2021
- The Latest Tesla Model S & Model X Ditch the 12-volt Lead-Acid Accessory Battery for Lithium-ion
- UK Moving up Its Goal to Ban New Gas-Powered Car Sales to 2030
- Here's What We Know About the Refreshed 2022 Hyundai Kona EV
- Mercedes Benz Will Reveal its New ‘Hyperscreen’ Ultra-Wide Dashboard Display on Jan 7
- BMW Announces Construction of a New 67,000 Square-foot Training Center at its Factory in South Carolina
- 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Deliveries Delayed Over Quality Issues
- Tesla's More Affordable Standard Range Model Y is a Recipe for Success
- China’s Tech Giant Baidu is Considering Making its Own Electric Vehicles, Sources Say
- China’s Tesla Challenger Xpeng Inc. Reports Record Q4 Sales and Monthly Deliveries for December
- Electric Vehicle Startup Xpeng Motors Plans to Sell Another 40 Million American Depositary Shares as Investor Interest Remains High