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June 14, 2018

Volvo Tech Fund invests in LiDAR company Luminar

Our Volvo Cars Tech Fund has completed its first strategic investment with a stake in Luminar – a leading start-up in the development of advanced sensor technology for use in autonomous vehicles.

Walking the streets of California's Palo Alto with a Tech Fund chequebook in your pocket and a licence to spend is arguably the most interesting assignment given to Volvo Cars staff in recent history. But challenging, too, as our Tech Fund team must explore a sea of start-up hopefuls equal in ambition and numbers to the script-peddlers pitching ideas further south in LA.

Our approach is a search narrowed by our strategic interest in technology trends in artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous driving and digital mobility services. And we've just made our first investment with a stake in Luminar.

This investment deepens our existing collaboration with Luminar – based in Palo Alto, California, and Orlando, Florida – which currently focuses on development and testing of its LiDAR sensing technology on Volvo cars. LiDAR uses pulsed laser signals to detect objects.

“LiDAR is a key technology for enabling autonomous cars to navigate safely in complex traffic environments and at higher speeds,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo Cars. “Our collaboration with Luminar allows us to learn more about its promising technologies and takes Volvo Cars one step further towards the highly autonomous cars of the future.”

The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched earlier this year and aims to invest in high potential technology start-ups around the globe.

“Luminar represents exactly the type of company and technology we seek to invest in, providing us with strategic access to new technologies, capabilities and talent,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Tech Fund. “Supporting promising young firms that are at the forefront of technological development will help us introduce cutting-edge technology that strengthens our leading role in the industry.”

Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell said: “Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and its safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities. Our LiDAR is the first to deliver the necessary performance to enable safe and reliable long-range perception, which is required to unlock Volvo Cars’ goals in autonomy at highway speeds.”

Eager to learn more about Luminar? In this episode of Volvo Tech Drive, we met with the company’s CEO/founder Austin Russell, who talks about how the LiDAR technology can help make autonomous cars a reality.