Known for making one of the safest cars in the world, Volvo Cars is about to set new safety and technology standards by partnering with tech firm Luminar. The collaboration will provide the latter’s industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology for Volvo’s next-generation cars.
It will deliver Volvo’s first fully self-driving technology for highways and paves the way for future active safety developments. Volvo Cars’ next-generation SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous driving, once production commences in 2022, with the Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof.
How Does It Work?
Cars based on SPA 2 will be updated with software over the air and if customers decide to opt for it, the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous highway driving will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions. 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. LiDAR is key in creating cars that can navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar alone cannot provide.
To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception technology will be combined with autonomous driving software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this will provide Volvo users access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways.
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 have 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.