Luminar, the buzzing sensor start-up that is set to become a publicly traded company has struck a deal with a supplier to provide Intel’s subsidiary Mobileye with lidar for its fleet of autonomous vehicles.
The deal, announced on Friday, will see a rising star paired with a company that has long dominated the auto industry. While the vendor deal falls far short of Mobileye’s core computer vision business, it is an important collaboration that goes beyond a few pilot programs. Luminar has had a development agreement with Mobileye for almost two years now. This new agreement marks the next critical step for both companies.
Mobileye’s camera-based sensors are used by most car manufacturers to support advanced driver assistance systems. Today, more than 54 million vehicles have Mobileye technology. But the company, which was acquired by Intel for $ 15.3 billion in 2017, has branched out in recent years, moving beyond its advanced driver assistance technology and towards developing a system. autonomous vehicle. Two years ago, Mobileye announced plans to launch a kit that included visual perception, sensor fusion, its REM mapping system, and software algorithms.
Mobileye has since ramped up its autonomous driving ambitions and taken what some in the industry see as an unlikely turn to become a robotaxi operator, not just a supplier.
The Luminar and Mobileye deal, while small at the moment, is still a production contract. Luminar’s lidar will be part of Mobileye’s first generation fleet of driverless vehicles, which are being piloted in Dubai, Tel Aviv, Paris, China and Daegu City, South Korea. Mobileye’s ultimate goal is to expand its robotaxi operations and sell its stand-alone battery (or AV series solution) to other companies. Mobileye CEO Ammon Shashua said the company is targeting commercial robotaxi services due to launch in 2022.
“So you basically have a production deal here to be able to outfit their vehicles for the 2022 launch of their service and the power that alongside their camera solution to create that security and redundancy,” said Austin Russell. , founder and CEO of Luminar, in a recent interview.
As the first use of this “AV Series solution” is for Mobileye’s internal fleet, Russell is interested in the opportunities that will follow.
“They’ve adopted a very different strategy and are a very different business than any other privately-held audiovisual development company,” Russell said. “These guys have tens of millions of products deployed on mass production vehicles; they know what it takes to put something into mass production. So being able to ride that wave and go upstairs to be in production vehicles as well was particularly interesting for us.
Luminar landed other production contracts. Volvo announced in May that it would start producing vehicles in 2022 equipped with lidar and a Luminar perception battery that the automaker will use to deploy an automated driving system for highways. For now, the lidar will be part of a hardware package that consumers can optionally add to second-generation Scalable Product Architecture Volvos vehicles, starting with the XC90. Volvo will combine Luminarslidar with cameras, radar, software and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power to activate its on-road pilot function.
Daimler’s truck division said in October it had invested in Luminar as part of a larger partnership to produce self-driving trucks capable of navigating highways without a human driver behind the wheel.
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