Mercedes-Benz will add Luminar lidar to ‘a broad range’ of vehicles by mid-decade

Mercedes-Benz will add lidar sensors to “a broad vary” of its vehicles by the center of the last decade, the corporate introduced at an investor occasion in California on Wednesday. The laser sensors will assist energy the German automaker’s next-generation driver-assist system, which permits for hands-free unsupervised driving on sure highways.

The lidar will be equipped by Luminar, a Florida-based firm wherein Mercedes owns a small funding stake. The German automaker has no plans to enhance its stake in Luminar, although the lidar deal is claimed to be value a number of billion {dollars}. (Mercedes owns lower than 1 % of the corporate.)

The German automaker has no plans to enhance its stake in Luminar

Mercedes is the most recent automaker to commit to promoting vehicles to prospects with rooftop lidar sensors. The laser sensor, a key element within the suites used by most autonomous vehicles, employs near-infrared mild to detect the shapes and distances of objects. Mixed with digicam photos and different sensor knowledge, lidar helps vehicles “see” different objects on the street, like vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, all with out the assistance of GPS or a community connection.



Picture: Luminar

The expanded deal will imply increasing Luminar’s manufacturing footprint to embody a manufacturing unit in Asia. The manufacturing unit will “virtually completely be devoted to supporting the Mercedes collection manufacturing program,” Luminar’s spokesperson mentioned.

Rising manufacturing and decreasing prices will be key targets within the early levels of the partnership. Lidar will be extremely costly — the rooftop variations offered by trade chief Velodyne can price as a lot as $75,000 — however Luminar has mentioned it goals to scale back the fee to as little as $500 a unit for superior driver-assistance system functions and round $1,000 a unit for autonomous functions.

Mercedes will be one of the primary automakers to set up Luminar’s Iris lidar in its manufacturing vehicles. Luminar’s lidar makes use of unusually lengthy waves of laser mild, 1,550 nanometers versus the standard 905nm, which helps spot even small and low-reflective objects — dark-colored vehicles, animals, a baby darting into the road — at a spread past 250 meters and up to 500 meters for bigger, brighter objects. 

Mercedes will be one of the primary automakers to set up Luminar’s Iris lidar in its manufacturing vehicles

Mercedes will use Luminar’s lidar to assist energy its Drive Pilot driver-assist system, a Degree 3 driving characteristic wherein the automotive does all of the driving however the driver wants to stand by to take management at a second’s discover. In contrast to a Degree 2 system, like GM’s Tremendous Cruise or Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving, a Degree 3 system purportedly doesn’t want to be supervised by a driver underneath sure situations, like on a divided freeway. Security advocates, and even some automakers, have raised issues about such a system being accessible on public roads with out satisfactory safeguards or regulatory oversight.

Mercedes and Luminar first introduced their partnership in January 2022, with the preliminary objective of putting in Luminar’s lidar in a single high-end mannequin. Now, the automaker plans on rising its lidar provide tenfold over a number of years in a deal that Luminar says is bigger than all of its different OEM partnerships mixed.

Since its founding in 2012, Luminar has secured commitments from a quantity of corporations to buy its lidars, together with Volvo, Audi, Toyota Analysis Institute, Intel’s MobileyeDaimler trucks, Airbus, and two Chinese language corporations: automaker SAIC and AV operator Luminar is rumored to actually have a partnership with Tesla, regardless of Elon Musk’s vocal derision of lidar as a “crutch” and a “idiot’s errand.”

Luminar says the Mercedes deal is bigger than all of its different OEM partnerships mixed

However whereas Luminar goals to see its lidar atop a fleet of robotaxis sometime, Mercedes has no such plans to compete with corporations like Waymo and Cruise. As a substitute, the corporate is throwing extra assets at its Degree 3 Drive Pilot system, which it simply self-certified as secure for public roads in Nevada.

In contrast to a totally autonomous automobile, a Degree 3 system nonetheless requires a human driver to stand prepared to take management of the automobile. Drive Pilot doesn’t permit drivers to take a nap or experience within the again seat of the automobile, for instance. Prior to now, folks have abused the lax driver monitoring controls in Tesla’s Autopilot to do each, which has unnerved regulators and spurred security advocates to name for extra strong monitoring.


Mercedes isn’t the one automaker pursuing the expertise. In its announcement that it was pivoting away from absolutely autonomous driving, Ford mentioned it might flip to “internally developed L2+/L3 expertise.” Audi, BMW, and Volvo have all mentioned they’re engaged on their very own Degree 3 programs, with California seen as the subsequent frontier for testing and deployment. 

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