This could be a game-changer.
Following a fatal pedestrian accident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle, Volvo had to rethink its autonomous vehicle technology. As the carmaker expects one-third of its vehicles to boast self-driving capability by 2025 Volvo is forging ahead with the development of fully autonomous vehicles. To reach this goal, Volvo has just announced a new partnership with a tech firm called Luminar to provide its industry-leading LiDAR technology.
In this partnership, Volvo will develop its first fully self-driving system for highways as well as future safety innovations. The Swedish automaker's next-generation SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture will come equipped with a Luminar LiDAR sensor seamlessly integrated into the roof. As part of this partnership, Volvo will increase its minority stake in Luminar.
The SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture is set to underpin a slew of next-generation models including a replacement for the current Volvo XC90 and several Polestar models. All cars built on SPA 2 can be updated over the air so customers can opt for the Highway Pilot feature after making their purchase decision. Volvo and Luminar will explore the possibility of using LiDAR to improve other advanced driver assistance systems and equipping all SPA2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard equipment.
LiDAR is extremely accurate because it emits millions of pulses of laser light to scan the road in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without needing internet connectivity. When paired with Volvo's already excellent suite of driver assistance systems, this technology could be industry-leading.
"Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history if introduced responsibly and safely," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. "Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction."
"Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," Green added. "At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction."