November 27, 2018
Looking further ahead than ever before
When we revealed our 360c autonomous drive concept earlier this year, we deliberately looked far ahead. We envisioned a future where cars are fully electric, fully self-driving and fully connected. The aim was to start a conversation: how do car makers, mobility companies, cities, national governments and regulators best work together to create an autonomous future that delivers benefits to society as a whole?
So we’re looking at a pretty complex puzzle, and a lot of pieces need to fall into place to get to that future. Consumers need to trust autonomous cars, governments and regulators need to change laws and car makers like ourselves need the right hardware and software to create safe autonomous cars.
LiDAR is the word
Good thing then that we have a partnership with Luminar, one of the hottest technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. We all know that Volvo Cars builds some of the safest cars in the world, but Luminar has an edge when it comes to LiDAR technology: a type of sensor that uses pulsed laser signals to detect objects and is a crucial element in creating safe autonomous vehicles.
Luminar, in partnership with our own engineers in California, have developed sensor technology that can look farther than any similar system currently available. It can detect objects over a range of up to 250 meters - which is more than six times farther than any existing LiDAR sensor. When driving on motorways at higher speeds, being able to look that far ahead is extremely useful as it allows the car more time to react.
On top of that, the new system now also detects human poses, including individual limbs such as legs and arms. Again, such a detailed level of technological perception is unprecedented.
The ongoing development of LiDAR technology, which uses pulsed laser signals to detect objects, is a crucial element in creating safe autonomous cars.
The new perception capabilities being developed by Luminar in partnership with Volvo Cars make it possible for the system to detect human poses including individual limbs such as arms and legs, a level of detail not previously possible with this type of sensor.
It allows autonomous cars to navigate safely in complex traffic environments and at higher speeds by providing these cars with reliable long-range perception capabilities.
The benefits of autonomy
Now, if you combine this type of LiDAR technology with the cameras and sensors around our cars, as well as the autonomous driving software to process the data from all these sensors, you can see how we will get to a safe introduction of fully autonomous cars.
Henrik Green, our R&D chief, argues that Luminar is a perfect partner for Volvo Cars: “Autonomous technology will take driving safely to a new level, beyond human limitations, and promises new benefits for our customers and society as a whole. Luminar shares our ambition in making those benefits a reality and this new perception technology is an important next step in that process.”
Watch the video above to listen to Henrik Green and Luminar’s founder Austin Russell talk about today’s announcement and get a better idea of what this new LiDAR technology is all about.