There are approximately a dozen autonomy-related companies I’m keeping an eye on. As noted in a recent article about Waymo’s approach versus Tesla’s approach, two key take-home points were: 1) autonomous driving experts disagree on which approach will lead to the most success in commercialized autonomous driving, 2) I certainly don’t know which approach will win. With that in mind, a new press release from Luminar caught my attention.
In collaboration with Volvo Cars, Luminar (which we’ve covered a few times since April 2017) has published long-range lidar data at a level no company has done publicly before. By opening up the data, Luminar and Volvo Cars are hoping for improved self-driving software algorithms.
Will this lead to nice leaps in self-driving software for Volvo Cars? Will this unprecedented step by Luminar result in rapid innovation that pulls Luminar (and Volvo Cars) ahead of others? Is this type of long-distance lidar data going to result in significantly improved autonomous driving software once more developers get their hands on it and refine the algorithms? We’ll see.
This is actually part of a new move by Volvo Cars to open up various resources and tools. So, overall, it seems Volvo Cars is betting on something that, to me, is approaching an open-sourcing development strategy. However, I’ll leave it to the software engineers here to chime in with your thoughts and clarifications.
The gist of the news is above, but to make sure everything is covered, here’s the full press release (minus the “Forward Looking Statements” section):
Luminar and Volvo Cars Further Collaboration with Release of Comprehensive Lidar Dataset
The industry’s longest range and highest resolution dataset is launched with Volvo Cars’ new Innovation Portal, as the companies continue to execute to series production
Luminar Technologies, Inc. (“Luminar”) (Nasdaq: LAZR), the global leader in automotive lidar hardware and software technology, and Volvo Cars today released a curated dataset called Cirrus containing unique long range lidar data from Volvo Cars’ test and data collection fleet. This curated dataset is being opened to industry developers and researchers in order to aid and further advancements for safe self-driving.
Cirrus features raw data from Luminar’s high performance lidar sensors, which accurately detect objects ahead of the car out to 250 meters away. The dataset is intended to help advance research and refinement of self-driving software algorithms, in the interest of improved vehicle safety at highway speeds and in complex environments. Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering has also been contributing effort to the project.
To date, lidar research has relied on shorter range, lower resolution point clouds and uniform scanning patterns in public datasets. Luminar also has the unique capability of dynamically adjusting its scan pattern for optimized resolution up to 5x standard uniform distribution. This is reflected in the dataset, which also includes uniform lidar data and corresponding camera images, and annotations for reference.
“Making this substantial dataset publicly available with Volvo Cars represents another significant step towards the development of safe and ubiquitous autonomous vehicles,” said Christoph Schroeder, vice president of software at Luminar. “Luminar and Volvo Cars are aligned in the belief that sharing knowledge and research will contribute to safer roads for everyone. Our dataset uses non-uniform gaussian scanning patterns, giving developers extremely high-quality information to help build more advanced autonomous capabilities.”
The Cirrus dataset is being released as part of the new Volvo Cars Innovation Portal, which makes a broad variety of resources and tools available for free, allowing external developers to create new innovative services and in-car apps.
“By making these resources publicly available, we support developers in and outside our company, and collaborate with the best of the best in their fields,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars.
About Luminar Technologies: Luminar is an autonomous vehicle sensor and software company with the vision to make autonomy safe and ubiquitous by delivering the only lidar and associated software that meets the industry’s stringent performance, safety, and economic requirements. Luminar has rapidly gained over 50 industry partners, including 7 of the top 10 global automotive OEMs. Earlier this year, Luminar signed the industry’s first production deal for autonomous consumer vehicles with Volvo Cars, while also recently striking deals with Daimler Truck AG and Intel’s Mobileye. Luminar has also received minority investments from the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, Daimler Truck AG, and Volvo Cars, a global leader in automotive safety, to accelerate the introduction of autonomous trucks and cars at highway speed. Founded in 2012, Luminar is a 350-person team with offices in Palo Alto, Orlando, Colorado Springs, Detroit, and Munich. For more information please visit www.luminartech.com.