Luminar lidar technology to feature in Volvo cars from 2022

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Luminar's lidar solution will integrate seamlessly into the roof of Volvo's future cars. (Image: Luminar)

Luminar has announced that its lidar technology will be included in Volvo's next generation of cars, which will be manufactured to be hardware-ready for autonomous driving from 2022.

Volvo has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.

The lidar technology will be seamlessly integrated into the roof of Volvo's SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture, delivering the firm's first fully self-driving technology for highways.



Luminar's lidar sensors operate by emitting millions of laser pulses to scan and accurately detect objects in the vicinity, creating a temporary, real-time 3D map without requiring internet connectivity.

The technology operates via the pulses of a single 1.5µm fibre laser being steered by two-axis scanning mirrors. It offers 250-metre range and high resolution, which is made possible because of the longer wavelength of light (many other lidar technologies operate at 905nm). Operating at 1.5µm is also deemed less damaging to the eyes and means higher power lasers can be used.

Alternative existing lidar technologies include solid-state solutions that contain no moving parts, such as those being developed by Lumotive and Innoviz, as well as those that feature multiple lasers rotating on the roof of a car, such as that created by Velodyne.

Related article: Modernising the motorcar

Updates on the airwaves

Cars based on the SPA 2 architecture can have their software updated remotely to enable a ‘Highway Pilot’ feature that will enable fully autonomous highway driving, which will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.

To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar's perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software from Zenuity, as well as the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power that will be installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. 

'Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely,' said Henrik Green, CTO at Volvo. 'Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction.'

Luminar's partnership with Volvo represents the firm's first delivery of its lidar technology into series production.

'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.'

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