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Volvo to Invest in Lidar Company

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Volvo Car Corp. plans a “significant” investment in Luminar Technologies Inc., a Silicon Valley startup specializing in lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles.

The carmaker, which already has a development agreement with Luminar, aims to expand the relationship to help it improve and commercialize autonomous vehicle systems, Volvo research and development boss Henrik Green tells Automotive News Europe. He describes Luminar’s lidar as one of the “most interesting” systems in the market.

Volvo expects about one-third of its new vehicles sold in 2025 will be capable of fully autonomous driving.

The Luminar investment will be made through Volvo Cars Tech Fund, which the carmaker launched in February. No timeframe or level of investment was provided.

Luminar, which was founded in 2012, also has development agreements with Toyota and two other unnamed carmakers.

The California company’s patented technology uses receivers made out of indium gallium arsenide instead of silicon. InGaAs devices operate on a much shorter wavelength and are more efficient at capturing light. This enables Luminar’s lidar to provide 50 times the resolution and 10 times the range of current lidar systems, according to the supplier.

In April Luminar said it had slashed production costs for its next-generation lidar by more than 80% to less than $1,000 per device. The company’s Orlando, Fla., assembly plant will have annual capacity to produce 20,000 units by year-end.