Volvo Cars has partnered with Silicon Valley-based Luminar to bring LiDAR and perception technology to its first fully self-driving technology for highways.
Volvo said its next generation Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) 2 will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous drive from 2022, with Luminar’s LiDAR integrated into the roof.
Cars based on SPA 2 will be updated with software over the air, and drivers be able to opt into the Highway Pilot feature that will enable fully autonomous highway driving.
“Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction.”
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 detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map.
In a statement, Volvo stated that LiDAR will enable cars to navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar cannot provide.
To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception 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 Volvo cars equipped for autonomous driving.
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” said Green. “At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction.”
Luminar’s partnership with Volvo Cars represents the company’s first delivery of its technology into series production.