Volvo looks to LiDAR startup to clear road towards autonomy
Credit: Luminar

Volvo looks to LiDAR startup to clear road towards autonomy

NEWSBYTE Volvo Cars has announced an investment in LiDAR startup Luminar that will see the latter provide its LiDAR sensing platform to Volvo, helping the carmaker pursue its strategy to develop safe autonomous vehicles.

This is the first investment to come via the new Volvo Cars’ Tech Fund.

LiDAR, an acronym for light detection and ranging, is an important component in the development of self-driving car systems. The technology works by bouncing pulsed laser light off objects and measuring the time it takes for the reflected pulses to return.

Volvo will invest an undisclosed amount in Luminar, and is the first of the LiDAR company’s automotive OEM partners to use all of its perception platform. Last September, the Toyota Research Institute was also announced as a partner. Two others have yet to be formally acknowledged by Luminar.

Luminar said it has created a 3D LiDAR data infrastructure, labelling, and annotation tools to take full advantage of the new level of data quality produced by its sensors. These tools will be used by Volvo in its future cars.

“Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and its safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities,” said Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell.

“Our LiDAR is the first to deliver the necessary performance to enable safe and reliable long-range perception, which is required to unlock Volvo’s goal of autonomy at highway speeds.”

Last month, it was revealed that one of the causes of March’s fatal accident involving an Uber Volvo was that the car’s own onboard safety systems had been overridden by Uber’s autonomous driving technology, along with Uber’s poor object detection and recognition.

Commercial reality for LiDAR

The partnership will also see Luminar contributing to R&D efforts towards Volvo’s vision of making autonomous travel a commercial reality.

“Luminar Technologies represents exactly the type of company and technology we seek to invest in, providing us with strategic access to new technologies, capabilities, and talent,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Tech Fund.

“Supporting promising young firms that are at the forefront of technological development will help us introduce cutting-edge technology that strengthens our leading role in the industry.”

Internet of Business says

While safety and security systems, AI, sensors, and object recognition systems are all increasingly becoming competitive differentiators in the self-driving world – witness Waymo’s claim back in March that the Uber accident could never have happened with Waymo technology – the real key for public safety on the roads will be partnership and industry-wide standards.