10:30 PM | June 22 2020
Safe self-driving technology for next-generation Volvos
Luminar LiDAR self-driving technology will be integrated seamlessly into the roofs of next-generation Volvos
Volvo Cars is setting new safety and technology standards by partnering with tech firm Luminar to provide their industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology for Volvo’s next-generation cars.
The partnership will deliver Volvo’s first fully self-driving technology for highways and paves the way for future active-safety developments.
From production start in 2022, Volvo Cars’ next-generation SPA2 modular vehicle architecture will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous drive, with the Luminar LiDAR integrated seamlessly into the roof.
Cars based on SPA2 will be updated with software over the air and – if optioned – the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous freeway driving can be activated once verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.
“Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely,” says 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.”
In addition to the Highway Pilot feature, Volvo Cars and Luminar are also exploring LiDAR’s role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard.
Luminar’s technology is based on its high-performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D – creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity.
Above: Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars, and Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar.
LiDAR is key to creating cars that can navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar alone cannot provide. LiDAR provides an ideal base for safe decision-making in complex environments at high speeds.
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” says Henrik 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.”
As part of the announcement, Volvo Cars and Luminar are deepening their collaboration to jointly ensure robust industrialisation and validation of Luminar’s LiDAR technology for series production. Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.
For Silicon Valley-based Luminar, partnering with Volvo Cars represents the company’s first delivery of its technology into series production. This is a key step to achieving the economies of scale that are required to bring the technology to the wider automotive industry.
“Volvo is recognised as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardisation across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies,” says Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar.
“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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