Next generation Volvo cars to get LiDAR-equipped self-driving abilities

Team OD Published: May 07, 2020, 02:21 PM IST

Swedish carmaker Volvo is partnering with Luminar to develop LiDAR-based self-driving tech for its next-generation of cars. Starting in 2022, Volvo will start building cars on the SPA2 architecture, beginning with the next-gen Volvo XC90 SUV.

Cars based on the SPA2 architecture will be available with a Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof, making them hardware ready for autonomous driving capabilities and more developments in active safety tech in the future.

Customers will be able to opt for OTA updates for their SPA2 cars, this will include the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous highway driving. The system will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions. The two companies are also looking at ways to equip all Volvo cars with these sensors in the future, as a means to improve future advanced driver assistance systems.

LiDAR(Light Detection And Ranging) was originally developed for space programs and was used to map the surface of the Moon, most notably, during the Apollo Missions. Luminar, a Silicon-Vally based start-up has used that same basic tech and optimized it for such applications. The firm has developed high-performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light that accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity. This is meant to work in cohesion with cameras and radar systems and create a clearer picture of the road ahead for the car's autonomous system, and help it react quicker in all situations.

For Volvo's highway driving feature, this technology will be combined with autonomous drive 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.

This will be the first instance of Luminar's tech going into series production. Volvo Cars and Luminar are also working together towards bringing this tech to production more swiftly. Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Luminar.

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