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Image: Volvo Cars

Volvo Cars is showing no actual cars at the Los Angeles auto show (now known as Automobility LA) this week – it has instead elected to “demonstrate its vision” for the future of mobility – but it is exhibiting the LiDAR sensor and perception technology it is leveraging for autonomous driving. This has been developed by Luminar, in which it made an investment earlier this year.

LiDAR, which detects objects using pulsed laser signals, featured in Volvo’s recent 360c concept, a design study suggesting that comfort-oriented, long-distance autonomous vehicles could perhaps replace short-haul aviation. Its interior can be configured as a sleeping space, a mobile office, an entertainment room or living room, and Volvo is showing this in LA via a VR station.

Luminar’s developments are said to give a new level of perceptive detail, including the poses of individual human limbs, and to detect objects at up to 250m. Company founder and CEO Austin Russell said in a statement: “The Volvo Cars R&D team is moving at an impressive pace to solve some of the most advanced problems in the development of autonomous driving. As we’ve scaled up, they’ve remained on the forefront of developing an autonomous system to take the driver out of the loop – ultimately enabling deployment in real consumer vehicles.”

Volvo Cars expects around one-third of annual sales volume to be autonomous by 2025, anticipates that half will be fully electric, and plans to “establish over five million direct consumer relationships”. Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive, said: “Our industry is changing. Rather than just building and selling cars, we will really provide our customers with the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable and safe way. We offer our customers access to a car, including new attractive services whenever and wherever they want it.”