Volvo Cars has announced partnership with Silicon Valley-based startup Luminar for LiDAR technology to introduce new safety and autonomous driving standard for its vehicles in the future. Volvo Cars is already known as a global leader in vehicular safety technology.
The partnership between the two companies will deliver to Volvo the first generation of technology for autonomous driving on highways (Highway Pilot) and will pave the way for future active safety systems.
The second generation of the scalable platform, SPA2, will be prepared from a hardware point of view for autonomous driving with the perfect integration of LiDAR technology in the ceiling since the beginning of production in 2022.
Cars based on the new SPA2 platform will benefit from Over The Air (OTA) software updates and if customers opt for the autonomous highway driving system, it will be active only after safety checks of the geographical location, along with other conditions.
“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."
In addition to Highway Pilot technology, Volvo Cars and Luminar are analyzing the role of LiDAR in the development of future driver assistance systems (ADAS - Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and the potential inclusion of the LiDAR sensor in the standard equipment for all cars based on the SPA2 platform.
(Also read: Volvo says coronavirus won’t slow its rollout of self-driving car tech)
Luminar technology is based on high-performance LiDAR sensors that, through millions of laser pulses emitted, can accurately detect surrounding objects for scanning surroundings in 3D format thus outlining a temporary 3D map in real time without the need for internet connectivity.
LiDAR is the key element in creating cars that adopt autonomous driving, with a reliable view and perception, which cannot be achieved by today's cameras and radar. LiDAR is the ideal basis for decision making in a complex environment at high speeds.
To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar perception technologies will be paired with autonomous driving software, along with radars, cameras and backup systems for features such as steering, braking and battery management on all future Volvo cars equipped for autonomous driving. These features together provide secure access to an autonomous driving solution to all users who request this feature.
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," said 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."
For Luminar, based in Silicon Valley, the partnership with Volvo Cars represents the first delivery of its own technology in series production. This is an important step in achieving the economies of scale needed to introduce this technology to the broad spectrum of the automotive industry.
“Volvo is recognised as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardisation across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies," said 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."