The newly-founded Volvo Cars Tech Fund has invested in Luminar, which develops lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles. The move by the Swedish carmaker builds on an existing collaboration with the start-up, which has facilities in Palo Alto, California, and Orlando, Florida.
“Luminar represents exactly the type of company and technology we seek to invest in, providing us with strategic access to new technologies, capabilities and talent,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Tech Fund. “Supporting promising young firms that are at the forefront of technological development will help us introduce cutting-edge technology that strengthens our leading role in the industry.”
Henrik Green, senior VP for research and development at Volvo Cars, added: “Lidar is a key technology for enabling autonomous cars to navigate safely in complex traffic environments and at higher speeds. 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.”
Luminar claims 10 times more range and 50 times more resolution in its lidar than in the performance of such systems currently on the market, and that its system can ‘see’ further than 200m at less than 10pc reflectivity. The company was founded in 2012, and currently employs over 350 people; it can now leverage Volvo’s access to the Chinese market as well as its global network of technology partnerships. Founder and CEO Austin Russell said: “Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and their safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities.”