Volvo invests in Silicon Valley lidar company for autonomous driving technology

2019 Volvo V60

Volvo and the Silicon Valley-based Luminar have announced a new partnership that gives the Swedish brand access to the company’s lidar sensing platform for continued self-driving car development.

Neither company commented on just how much Volvo Cars Tech Fund invested in the company, but it’s the newly established fund’s first investment. Luminar will now help Volvo’s research and development process to bring self-driving cars to market with safety at the forefront.

“Our collaboration with Luminar allows us to learn more about its promising technologies and takes Volvo Cars one step further to the highly autonomous cars of the future,” Henrik Green, senior vice president for research and development at Volvo Cars, said.

Luminar makes a laser and receiver housed in a compact unit, which the company claims is more efficient and less costly than rival companies’ products. The system can see 820 feet ahead of the car, which is about 7.5 seconds of driving at highway speeds.

Luminar has expanded beyond core sensing technology to include a 3D lidar data infrastructure, labeling, and annotation tools to take advantage of the mass amounts of data produced by the system’s sensors. The 3D lidar data is particularly important since most rival companies apply a two-dimensional perception tool.

Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell said his lidar’s sensing capabilities are necessary to unlock the goal of delivering autonomy at highway speeds.

Volvo Cars is the first to take advantage of Luminar’s expanded platform, but not the first automaker to partner with the company. Previously, Luminar and Toyota announced a collaboration, and the company said it’s currently working with two other automakers with its self-driving technology.

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