Volvo will be partnering with Luminar for LiDAR and perception technology on the next generation of their cars, starting with the 2022 XC90. The partnership is set to yield the first fully self-driving technology for highways, called Highway Pilot, and paves the way for future active safety developments, according to a release. There are currently no self-driving cars on the market.
According to a release, “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.”
The LiDAR tech will be integrated into the roof of the next-gen XC90, seen here.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars
Volvo’s next-gen SPA 2 vehicle architecture is said to be hardware-ready for autonomous driving starting in 2022, with Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof of the vehicle.
Buyers who opt for Highway Pilot on their vehicles will have the technology activated via an over-the-air (OTA) update. It will only be activated once the vehicle has determined it is safe via geographic locations and conditions. Volvo has not specified which highways they are designating as safe.
As described by Volvo, “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 forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways.”
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Cars. “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.”
Volvo has been testing self-driving technology in vehicles for years, including trials near its headquarters in Sweden. Its in-house Drive Me program was designed to be suitable for families that were given special training.
The partnership between Luminar and Volvo also extends to exploring LiDAR’s role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA 2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard. This means that everything from the S90 to the XC40 could get the tech as well.
ADAS isn’t as easy to scale up or down as cruise control. Because of the variety of vehicle angles and sight lines, each model requires its own tuned engineering from multiple angles. However, each vehicle may use the same hardware and software.
As part of the agreement, Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Silicon Valley-based Luminar.