Mercedes-Benz Partners With Luminar For Self-Driving Technology Development

Self-driving sensor maker Luminar Technologies Inc has struck a partnership with the luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz for creating technologies and hardware for the development of fully automated cars fit for driving on the highways for the venture’s next-generation vehicles, said the founder of Luminar.

A number of global auto companies, from Tesla to GM, are pursuing strategies to develop and launch autonomous vehicles, even though there are many challenges related to regulations and adequate technologies.

Self-driving taxis or trucks for commercial use such as for ride-hailing and delivery service providers are being developed by a number of tech companies also – such as Alphabet’s Waymo and Cruise.

Luminar CEO Austin Russell said in an interview that vehicle autonomy “is really going mainstream with Mercedes”. He however did not mention any timeline for including the technology in the cars made by Mercedes. 

The two companies would attempt to create “true” autonomy capabilities, including those that ensure increased safety levels and capabilities such as automatic braking, he said.

Earlier this month, General Motors Co’s Chief Executive Mary Barra had said that the US carmaker was partnering with Cruise self-driving unit, which is majorly owned by GM, for bringing to market a personal autonomous vehicle as early as the middle of the current decade.

“If you want to be able to get to truly autonomous capabilities in a consumer vehicle, and you have to industrialize hardware, software, all of these systems that come into play. That by the way, is completely different than the work that the robo-taxi companies have been working on,” Russell said.

Mass production of lidars is a challenge, Russell said and added that ensuring that liders are robust enough to meet stringent requirements from automakers was also difficult.

“It is a completely different kind of business of going from a science and technology business to automotive corporation.”

The use of liders is critical for self-driving technology development because these devices make use of laser light pulses for the measurement of the distances between the sensor and the object being targeted. These sensors are widely considered to be extremely important for the achievement of full autonomous driving technology.

However, Tesla – the leader in the industry of electric vehicles, has shunned the sensor as it believes that it is not only expensive but also an unnecessary component or technology.

Volvo Cars and Luminar announced earlier this month that a planned electric sport utility vehicle will have a hands-free driving technology.

(Adapted from TheStreet.com) 

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