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Silicon Valley-based lidar developer Luminar announced a new OEM partner today: Volvo. Luminar will collaborate on the automaker’s autonomous car efforts and provide its lidar platform, which has an industry-leading range of more than 250 meters and a 120-degree field of view.
“Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and their safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities,” Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell said in a press release. “Our lidar is the first to deliver the necessary performance to enable safe and reliable long-range perception, which is required to unlock their goals of autonomy at highway speeds.”
As a result of the partnership, Volvo has made a “significant investment” in Luminar, which is a beneficiary of its newly launched Volvo Cars Tech Fund. The Tech Fund targets “high potential” technology startups in the areas of artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, digital mobility services, and electrification.
Luminar’s second piece of news is a new software suite — a “perception development platform” — that will help label and annotate lidar data from its sensors. Volvo will be the first OEM to take advantage of it.
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Volvo is the second of the startup company’s four OEM partners to be announced publicly, following Toyota Research Institute in September 2017. Luminar, which emerged from stealth after five years in April 2017, has raised $36 million in funding from 1517 Fund, Canvas Ventures, and GVA Capital.
Luminar’s lidar sensors measure the distance between themselves and objects by emitting a laser pulse and calculating the time it takes for the light to scatter off reflective surfaces. Unlike most other sensors, they operate at the 1,550-nanometer wavelength, making them “eye-safe” and up to 40 times more powerful than conventional lidar sensors.
In April, Luminar purchased Black Forest Engineering, a Colorado Springs-based company that specializes in working with indium gallium arsenide — a crucial component of the startup’s lidar sensors. And it recently opened a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing campus in Orlando, Florida, which has the capacity to produce 5,000 units per fiscal quarter.
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