Mobileye taps Luminar to supply lidar for its robotaxi fleet – ProWellTech
Luminar, the buoyant sensor startup that is on the verge of becoming a publicly traded company, locked in a deal with a supplier to supply subsidiary Intel Mobileye with lidar for its autonomous vehicle fleet.
The deal, announced on Friday, will see a rising star paired with a company that has long dominated the auto industry. While the vendor agreement is nowhere near the reach of Mobileye’s computer vision core business, it is an important collaboration that goes beyond some pilot programs. Luminar has had a development agreement with Mobileye for nearly two years. This new agreement marks the next critical step for both companies.
Mobileye’s camera-based sensors are used by most car manufacturers to support advanced driver assistance systems. Today, more than 54 million vehicles have Mobileye technology. But the company, which was acquired by Intel for $ 15.3 billion in 2017, has branched out over the past few years, moving beyond its advanced driver assistance technology to developing an autonomous vehicle system. Two years ago, Mobileye announced plans to launch a kit that includes visual perception, sensor fusion, its REM mapping system and software algorithms.
Mobileye has since stepped up its self-driving ambitions and has taken what some in the industry see as an unlikely turn to become a robotaxi operator, not just a supplier.
The Luminar and Mobileye agreement, although small, is still a production contract at the moment. The Luminar lidar will be part of Mobileye’s first-generation driverless vehicle fleet, which is flown in Dubai, Tel Aviv, Paris, China and Daegu City, South Korea. Mobileye’s ultimate goal is to expand its operations of robotaxi and sell its self-driving stack (or AV series solution) to other companies. Mobileye CEO Ammon Shashua said the company is targeting commercial robotaxi services to launch in 2022.
“So basically you have a manufacturing agreement here to be able to equip their vehicles towards the 2022 launch of their service and power which, alongside their camera solution, to create that safety and redundancy,” said the founder and Luminar CEO Austin Russell in a recent interview.
Although the first use of this “AV series solution” is for Mobileye’s in-house fleet, Russell is interested in the opportunities that will follow.
“They’ve adopted a very different strategy and are a very different company to any other private AV development company,” Russell said. “These guys have tens of millions of products distributed on production vehicles; they know what it takes to put something into mass production. So being able to ride that wave and get to the ground floor to be in production vehicles as well was of particular interest to us. “
Luminar has secured other production-level deals. Volvo announced in May that it will begin manufacturing vehicles in 2022 equipped with lidar and a Luminar perception stack that the automaker will use to implement an automated driving system for highways. For now, the lidar will be part of a hardware package that consumers can add as an option to Volvo’s second-generation Scalable Product Architecture vehicles, starting with the XC90. Volvo will combine Luminar’s Lidar with cameras, radar, software and backup systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power to enable its highway pilot function.
Daimler’s truck division said in October that it has invested in Luminar as part of a larger partnership to produce autonomous trucks that can navigate freeways without a human driver behind the wheel.