Volvo XC40 © Volvo
LiDAR technology is increasingly used in the emerging autonomous car industry despite the high cost. In 2018, the Swedish manufacturer Volvo was making a “strategic investment” in the start-up Luminar, which specializes in LiDAR devices.
In a press release, the group has just announced to start the production of cars equipped with Luminar technology in 2022. These vehicles will be able to drive "alone" on the highway.
Level 3 vehicles from 2022
LiDAR technology has a defect: it is excessively expensive (around $ 75,000), which discourages manufacturers from installing it on their vehicles. This is why Luminar is of interest to the sector. The brand, which also works with Volkswagen, Audi and Toyota, says it can offer such a system for less than $ 1,000.
Volvo has also invested in it, and the company announces today that LiDAR systems designed by Luminar will be integrated into vehicles produced by 2022. With the company's third generation LiDAR, Volvo intends to produce level 3, c autonomous cars that is, capable of driving on the highway without human intervention.
On its site, the brand announces the deployment of its Highway Pilot for 2022. It will be released simultaneously to its new SPA 2 platform, which will equip its next generations of SUVs, notably the XC90 and XC40.
The question of price
Despite the lower prices announced by Luminar, Volvo's bet remains ambitious. It will not only be a question of acquiring LiDAR systems, it will also be necessary to be able to provide vehicles with the computing power necessary for autonomous driving. This is the reason why most manufacturers limit themselves to fleets of autonomous taxis to reduce their costs. This is the case, for example, of Toyota, which invests in Pony.ai. Volvo has adopted another approach, choosing to limit the operational area of its autonomous driving to only motorways. According to him, this limitation should reduce the costs involved in the system while making it safer.
An approach which, according to Austin Russell, the CEO of Luminar, goes against the usual approach of the sector. The leader said: " I think many people did not really see passenger cars as a viable route to self-sufficiency. Everyone has rushed into the robot-taxi sector, seeing this as a first area of deployment " For him, it is the industrialization and the massive sale of LiDAR systems that will make them viable with individual vehicles.
But if companies like Cruise or Waymo are already widely launched in taxis using LiDAR, these systems also have their detractors.
Source: The Verge, ITU News, Volvo