Mercedes partners with Luminar to make self-driving vehicles

21 Jan 2022

Image: © OceanProd/Stock.adobe.com

The carmaker plans to add Luminar’s sensor tech into its vehicles.

Luxury car company Mercedes-Benz has partnered with self-driving tech company Luminar, to enable autonomous driving for its next generation of vehicles.

Luminar uses lidar, laser sensors that use near-infrared light to detect the shapes of objects. Sensors like this are a key component for self-driving vehicles, allowing them to ‘see’ objects on the road without the need for GPS or a network connection.

Future Human

Adding this tech into Mercedes-Benz vehicles will allow them to drive fully automated on highways, Luminar CEO Austin Russell told Reuters.

He added that vehicle autonomy “is really going mainstream with Mercedes” and that the two companies would develop true autonomy capabilities, including improved safety capabilities such as automatic braking.

As part of the deal, Daimler – the parent company of Mercedes-Benz – is getting an equity stake of 1.5m shares in Luminar, worth roughly $20.2m or less than 1pc of the company.

‘A landmark moment’

“This partnership is a landmark moment in the industry, demonstrating how substantially increased safety and autonomous driving functions on consumer vehicles are going from sci-fi to mainstream,” Russell said in a statement.

“Mercedes-Benz has always been a technological leader and first mover for the industry, with the brand synonymous with automotive innovation, safety, luxury and quality.”

Daimler will share development and production data with Luminar, to help continuous product updates and improvements. No time frame has been disclosed by either company for when the sensors will be introduced to the Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Various vehicle companies such as Tesla and General Motors have been looking into autonomous driving technology recently, although challenges still remain in this field.

There was a wave of new autotech announcements in 2021, from Tesla’s supercomputer solution to Amazon’s long distance self-driving lorries.

Last August, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into Tesla, saying its Autopilot driver-assistance system had trouble identifying parked emergency vehicles.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com