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Lucid Air
Courtesy of Lucid Motors

Autonomous Vehicles

Lucid Air Will Debut DreamDrive Lidar-Enhanced Autonomous Driving Suite

Lucid Motors says its Air sedan will be equipped with a long range wide-angle Lidar sensor, the first in a production car.

Lucid is leading up to the official reveal of its first production car, the Lucid Air, on September 9. The Lucid factory is under construction in Casa Grande, Arizona and the first production cars are expected to be delivered to customers in early 2021. In an e-mail to CleanTechnica, Lucid says when the Lucid Air hits the streets, it will feature one of the most advanced autonomous driver assistance systems available from any manufacturer, including Tesla.

Lucid Air

Lucid Air, image courtesy of Lucid Motors

One key to the Lucid ADAS is an integrated long range, wide-angle forward looking Lidar system the company says will work in conjunction with cameras and radar sensors, with all three inputs being used to verify the data from the others. That should help eliminate the issues other systems — particularly Autopilot — have in detecting large vehicles stopped in a travel lane on the highway.

The DreamDrive technology suite uses 32 sensors to support 19 key safety, driving, and parking assist features. Another eight features are expected to be available later via over-the-air updates. “We have developed Lucid DreamDrive to be among the most advanced ADAS to ever be offered to consumers,” says Dr. Eugene Lee, senior director for ADAS and autonomous driving at Lucid Motors.

“By prioritizing safety and updateability, DreamDrive also sets the stage for offering increasingly sophisticated driver assistance features. We have ensured that the Lucid DreamDrive hardware and software platform not only offers a full suite of Level 2 features, but is also Level 3 ready, which means we’ll be able to quickly add features and functions over-the-air throughout the lifetime of Lucid Air and for future Lucid models.” Lee says. The company expects to introduce Level 3 capability in about 3 years after the first cars are delivered.

The Lidar sensor, sourced from and undisclosed company, will have the equivalent of 125 beams. The sensor suite includes an in-car driver monitoring system that not only shares relevant information with the driver but also insures that the driver is paying attention to the road ahead.

Lucid Air

Lucid Air, image courtesy of Lucid Motors

The Lucid Air will be the first production car to have what the company calls an Ethernet Ring, an advanced digital architecture that provides a fully redundant platform for key functions such as steering, brakes, sensors, and more.  It features redundant independent power sources and communications paths, fail-operational actuators, and fault-tolerant computation.

“Lucid Motors is laser-focused on delivering the world’s best luxury car, embodying the most advanced powertrain and safety systems possible, all designed and developed in-house,” says Peter Rawlinson, CEO of Lucid Motors. “Our customers expect that philosophy to extend to the Lucid Air’s ADAS, and for that we’ve developed a highly advanced, future-proof system that brings forth an unparalleled combination of sensors and software.”

Lucid Air interior

Lucid Air interior, image courtesy of Lucid Motors

Commercial partners which assisted in the development of the DreamDrive systems including Here, Continental, and Bosch. However, the work of integrating these systems was done completely in-house, the company says.

When it comes to market, the Lucid Air will be one of the most efficient electric cars available. Earlier this year, a prototype car drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles — a distance of more than 400 miles — without stopping to recharge.

Here’s what Peter Rawlinson has to say about efficiency:

“What I want to do is create the most range with the smallest battery pack. There’s dumb range and there’s smart range. Dumb range is stuffing a huge battery pack into the car. There’s talk of one company having a 180-kWh battery pack. That would literally weigh a ton. So you’ve got this extra weight, the extra space the pack takes up, and the extra cost, which gets passed onto the customer.

“Then you get this vicious circle, because the car is heavier, so the suspension has to be beefed up, the brakes have to be bigger, and that creates yet more weight. So then you have to add more [battery] cells. For every extra hundred cells you put in the car, you need a couple of cells to have the energy to propel those other hundred.”

The first electric car offerings from Audi and Jaguar are far less efficient, struggling to drive more than 230 miles without charging. As the EV revolution moves forward, the most efficient cars will attract the most buyers.

The news about the upcoming Lucid Air is good to hear. Monitoring drivers to make sure they aren’t napping in the back seat or reading Mad Magazine when they should be paying attention to the road ahead makes sense, yet many companies — we’re looking at you, Tesla — refuse to incorporate such a simple feature into their ADAS systems. Getting to Level 3 in three years may or may not put Lucid ahead of the pack, but it’s good to know that functionality will come via over-the-air updates.

We are trying to get a chance to spend some time in a Lucid Air, but have been unsuccessful so far. Perhaps after the official reveal, a prototype will shake loose for one of our writers to sample. Stay tuned. More coming in about 5 weeks. In the meantime, feast your eyes on the latest official photos from Lucid. If nothing else, this car is a looker.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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