Luminar Builds Lidar Sensors To Help Self-Driving Cars See Farther Than Humans

Posted: Apr 13 2017, 12:16pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News

 
Luminar Builds Lidar Sensors to Help Self-Driving Cars See Farther Than Humans
Luminar CEO and cofounder Austin Russell. Image Credit: TechCrunch
  • Luminar manufactures Lidar Sensors to Allow Extra Visual Capacity for Self-Driving Vehicles

Luminar has manufactured lidar sensors to allow extra visual capacity for self-driving vehicles in the future.

Austin Russell got into a golf cart and sped through the streets of San Francisco zigzagging through the various obstacles, human and otherwise. It almost seemed he had a lot of appetite for surrealism.

Yet this seemingly foolhardy behavior had a reason behind it which was not so unreasonable. It was meant to test the resolution and range of the lidar sensor by Luminar Technologies, which was a company Russell co-founded half a decade ago.

Russell was only 17 way back then and those were his salad days of youthful idealism. A lidar is a laser version of radar that detects light. It is a fundamental part of self-driving vehicles. Via this sensor, the self-driving cars get to visualize the rest of the world and especially the routes which they have to take.

Most of the obstacles are clearly visible from the vantage point of these lidars. Russell says that he saw in these lidars a whole new industry in the making. He wanted to invest in such a leading edge technology.

Fast forward five years and Luminar, Russell’s company had raised $36 million in capital. It is a firm that is on the rise and all set to go places. Silicon Valley automobile manufacturers are already busy making robotic cars which will be available three to four years down the road.

They will most probably be used as taxi cabs in the first foray into the metropolitan concrete and glass jungles of the future. Russell and his company’s co-founder, Jason claim that their firm’s product offers 50 times more resolution and 10 times more range than the competition in the market.

The biggest plus point of this technology is that it can detect dark objects that come in its field of vision. This extends to a distance of 650 feet.

This capacity to see dark objects at such long range means that the self-driving cars have a 7 second margin of reaction time to swerve and avoid an object that is racing towards them in the space-time continuum.

Russell won a scholarship worth $100,000 during his undergraduate days. The funding personality behind the scholarship encouraged him to concentrate on the company he co-founded which was named Luminar.

The current lidars are very costly though. Yet they provide 3D vision. Luminar will pull through and one day be mass manufacturing lidar technology for self-driving vehicles. All it takes is a little elbow grease and it will be good to go.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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