Volvo is on the cusp of launching its first car with LiDAR road-reading technology, and it says this could make the electric EX90 one of the safest cars in the world.
Speaking to media at an event in Sweden, Volvo CEO Jim Rowan said the safest cars on the road are ones that have more sensors – not less, a move opposite to the likes of Tesla, which has slimmed its sensing suite down to just camera technology.
“Top of mind for us right now and one of the things we’ve done for almost 100 years is safety. And there’s no way we’d compromise that at all,” said Mr Rowan.
“Right now certainly our roadmap shows us that you need a combination of sensors, radars, cameras, and of course, including LIDAR. And if you want to be, you know, the safest car at this point in time, then we believe you need all of those working in harmony together.
“And we have a team of about 800 software engineers that only write the software between the silicon and what we call that sensor set, which is the cameras and the LiDAR, and the whole sensor set software is written by us. So most of the perception stack as well as the sensor fusion which brings together all that different technology.”
LiDAR is 3D imaging technology that allows the car to interpret road data up to 200m ahead of the vehicle with incredible detail. And most importantly of all, it doesn’t require light to interpret the data.
Volvo owns a majority stake in Luminar, the company that manufactures the LiDAR technology found on the new EX90, and it’s expected that over time the technology will filter down to more affordable Volvo vehicles.
LiDAR will come standard on the EX90 and will team with other sensors including cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to give the vehicle a superior understanding of its surroundings.
Volvo will also move away from third party suppliers controlling and supplying all the code that ties all of these systems together. The Swedish brand is investing more in writing their own code stack that ties this hardware together to make sure future over-the-air updates are easier to manage and deploy.
Electric vehicle brand Polestar, owned by both Geely and Volvo, is also employing LiDAR from Luminar in its upcoming Polestar 3 SUV and 5 grand tourer.
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