Austin Russell wants to change the cumbersome process involved in building automated-driving systems. Rather than require car companies to patch together components from multiple suppliers, he wants to offer them a finished product.
"It really makes a huge difference when you have this hardware and software deeply integrated," said Russell, CEO of lidar company Luminar. "There's so many times you see these different components developed in a vacuum. If you have something developed as a holistic solution, it really makes all the difference."
Along those lines, Luminar has partnered with Zenseact, the software company formed by Volvo Car Group in 2020, to co-develop a full-stack automated driving system that will be tailored for the passenger-vehicle market. Their first customer is Volvo, and the automated-driving product, called Sentinel, will launch in 2022.
It is tailored for highway driving environments. The system will combine the software made by Zenseact that underpins decision-making and course-controlling functions with Luminar's sensors and perception software.
For Luminar, the deal marks a pivot from strictly providing lidar sensors to providing software and systems.
Volvo formed Zenseact in October 2020 following the dissolution of Zenuity, its software-centered joint venture with supplier Autoliv. "We really believe this is the next step of safety, and bringing this partnership to the next level," said Zenseact CEO Odgard Andersson.