Volvo plan to offer fully autonomous highway driving capability on their 2022 models, with help from U.S. technology company Luminar.
Volvo models starting with the XC90 and eventually including the next-generation XC60 and V60 will be what the maker call “hardware-ready” for autonomous driving. Customers who choose the optional Highway Pilot will get a package of technology that includes autonomous drive software, cameras, radars, backup systems for functions such as steering and braking, and Luminar’s lidar system integrated into the roof.
Volvo have a minority stake in Luminar, which they may expand, and meanwhile the automaker and supplier are coöperating to see if it’s possible to make lidar systems standard in models built on Volvo’s SPA2 platform. Volvo will be Luminar’s first series-production customer, though Luminar are also working with Audi, Toyota, and nine other automakers, Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell says.
In the past, a lidar system cost roughly $10,000. Russell says Luminar has been able to bring that down to $1,000 for autonomous driving applications and $500 for ADAS solutions built in volumes in the hundreds of thousands. Luminar’s system, called Iris, can detect human poses including individual limbs such as arms and legs at a range of up to 250 metres, compared with about 30 or 40 metres from some currently-available lidar systems.