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Luminar Enters Autonomous Vehicle Market With Breakthrough Lidar

Photonics.com
Apr 2017
PORTOLA VALLEY, Calif., April 13, 2017 — Luminar Technologies Inc. has launched a lidar system designed to make autonomous vehicles safer and more scalable. With four strategic partners, two acquisitions and $36 million in seed funding, the company will begin producing a 10,000-unit run this year out of their newly acquired 50,000 square-feet manufacturing facility in Orlando, Fla.

Lidar system on roof of car.
A lidar system on the roof of a vehicle. Courtesy of Luminar Technologies.

The Luminar team has spent five years engineering and manufacturing the major components of their system from the chip-level up; this includes lasers, receivers, scanners and processing electronics. Luminar says they have created a lidar sensor that sets new standards in performance, scalability, and autonomous vehicle safety.

“We had to find 2,000 ways not to make a lidar system before we found the one way that finally delivers on what the industry needs,” said Austin Russel, founder and CEO of Luminar. “We made a breakthrough that will allow self-driving cars to be ubiquitous and, most importantly, safe.”


Still photo of an image the lidar system picked up and detected from its lasers. It can clearly identify pedestrians, shapes of other vehicles and other objects. Courtesy of Luminar Technologies.

The new system operates at 1550 nm wavelength, and uses an InGaAs design for the receiver. The Luminar system can detect hard-to-see, low-reflectivity objects, and offers a full seven seconds of reaction time at 75 mph.

The company, founded in 2012, has 150 employees at its Portola Valley, Calif., and Orlando, Fla. locations.




GLOSSARY
lidar
An acronym of light detection and ranging, describing systems that use a light beam in place of conventional microwave beams for atmospheric monitoring, tracking and detection functions. Ladar, an acronym of laser detection and ranging, uses laser light for detection of speed, altitude, direction and range; it is often called laser radar.
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