By Staff Reporter
Volvo is aiming to bring self-driving cars to a highway near you by with their next-generation cars. How you may ask, well, the Swedish car maker is aiming to achieve this through a partnership with tech firm Luminar.
Industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology
Luminar are providers of industry-leading LiDAR and perception technology and Volvo Cars’ next generation SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture will be available as hardware-ready for autonomous drive from production start in 2022, with the Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof.
Cars based on SPA 2 will be updated with software over the air and if customers decide to opt for it, the Highway Pilot feature that enables fully autonomous highway driving will be activated once it is verified to be safe for individual geographic locations and conditions.
In addition to the Highway Pilot feature, Volvo Cars and Luminar are also exploring LiDAR’s role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard.
How Luminar’s technology works
Luminar’s technology is based on its high performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity.
LiDAR is key in creating cars that can navigate safely in autonomous mode, providing them with the reliable vision and perception that cameras and radar alone cannot provide. LiDAR is the ideal basis for safe decision-making in complex environments at high speeds.
To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways.
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” said Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction.”
Availability in South Africa
“We know that the question on the lips of South Africans is whether or not this technology will be available to use on South African roads,” says Greg Maruszewski, Volvo Car South Africa MD. “The cars will be produced ‘hardware-ready’ for autonomous drive. This means that the car can become autonomous when legislation in South Africa is ready. The Luminar technology will be integrated from production start in 2022 as an option and we expect to see these cars available for purchase in South Africa sometime thereafter.”
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