Volvo to deploy autonomous LiDAR tech in vehicles from 20222 min read . Updated: 07 May 2020, 02:22 PM IST
- The technology is commonly used in self-driving cars, but hasn’t really been seen in mainstream vehicles yet, especially in India
- The Luminar LiDAR tech will be integrated into the roof of the vehicles, similar to how other companies have used LiDAR so far.
NEW DELHI: Swedish car maker Volvo on Thursday said it will introduce light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology in its next generation cars from 2022. The technology is commonly used in self-driving cars, but hasn’t really been seen in mainstream vehicles yet, especially in India.
LiDAR tech is expensive, but Volvo seems to have found a cost-effective way to bring it to consumer vehicles through a partnership with Luminar, an autonomous transportation company. Volvo had made a “strategic investment" in the company back in 2018.
The Swedish company today said its next generation Scalable Product Architecture 2 (SPA2) modular vehicle architecture will be used for autonomous driving for vehicles in production starting 2022. The Luminar LiDAR tech will be integrated into the roof of the vehicles, similar to how other companies have used LiDAR so far.
“Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer (CEO) at Volvo Cars. “Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction," he added.
The company, which calls it “Highway Pilot" feature, is also “exploring" the role of this technology in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in future. It could put LiDAR on all its SPA2-based cars as a standard in future, if found feasible.
The technology emits pulses of laser light which determine where objects are and scan the environment around a car in three dimensions. It creates a temporary real-time map of the surroundings and eliminates the need for Internet connectivity for doing so. Volvo will use Luminar’s LiDAR tech with its own autonomous driving software, cameras, radars and back-up systems for enabling automatic steering, braking and more.
“Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," said Green. “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," he added.
At the moment, Volvo’s self driving technologies, at least those available in India, are able to manage themselves autonomously in wide highways with clear lane markings. They also do not really allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel for more than a few seconds. While they do give the company’s cars an edge, they’re not particularly usable in most conditions. LiDAR could solve that to some extent.
That said, it will still be a long way away from being deployed on crowded and narrow streets that are common in India.