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Autonomous Vehicles

Luminar & Mercedes-Benz Announce Broad Deal Across Next-Generation Production Vehicle Lines

Luminar is a global automotive technology company helping to usher in a new era of vehicle safety and autonomy. Luminar says that for the past  decade, it has built an advanced hardware and software platform to enable next-generation safety and autonomous capabilities for production vehicles for its more than 50 industry partners. These include some of the major global automotive OEMs. These partners range from Volvo Cars for consumer vehicles and Daimler Truck AG for commercial trucks, to tech partners NVIDIA and Intel’s Mobileye. Luminar views lidar as the next key turning point to vehicle safety just as seatbelts and airbags were key turning points in vehicle safety decades ago.

This week, Luminar announced an extensive expansion of its partnership with Mercedes-Benz to safely enable enhanced automated driving capabilities across a broad range of next-generation production vehicle lines as part of the automaker’s next-generation lineup. Luminar’s Iris entered its first series production in October 2022 and the company’s Mercedes-Benz program has successfully completed the initial phase and the associated milestones. Iris is a high performance, long-range lidar sensor that enables advanced safety and autonomy for car, commercial trucks and more.

Luminar says that after two years of close collaboration between the two companies, Mercedes-Benz now plans to integrate the next generation of Luminar’s Iris lidar and its associated software technology across a broad range of its next-generation production vehicle lines by mid-decade. The performance of the next-generation Iris is tailored to meet the requirements of Mercedes-Benz for a new conditionally automated driving system that is planned to operate at higher speed for freeways, as well as for enhanced driver assistance systems for urban environments. It will also be simplifying the design integration with a sleeker profile. This multi-billion dollar deal is a milestone moment for the two companies and the industry and is poised to substantially enhance the technical capabilities and safety of conditionally automated driving systems.

“Mercedes’ standards for vehicle safety and performance are among the highest in the industry, and their decision to  double down on Luminar reinforces that commitment,” said Austin Russell, Founder and CEO of Luminar. “We are now set to enable the broadest scale deployment of this technology in the industry. It’s been an incredible sprint so far, and we are fully committed to making this happen – together with Mercedes-Benz.”

“In a first step we have introduced a Level 3 system in our top line models. Next, we want to implement advanced automated driving features in a broader scale within our portfolio,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of  Management of Mercedes Benz Group AG and Chief Technology Officer, Development & Procurement. “I am convinced that Luminar is a great partner to help realize our vision and roadmap for automated and accident-free driving.”

Luminar was founded in 2012 by Austin Russell, who is also CEO at Luminar. Luminar says it built a new type of lidar from the chip-level up and therefore created a lidar sensor that unlocks advanced safety and autonomy for automakers. Luminar’s website says its Iris has the most sensitive, highest dynamic range indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) detector in the world when paired with its receiver Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips. This helps in detecting dark objects at night up to 250m away and also achieve a maximum range of 600m. Luminar adds that the ability to reliably see at long distances means enough time to react safely at highway speeds. For example, when traveling at 65 mph, there is seven seconds of reaction time with Luminar versus one second of reaction time with traditional Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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