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The future of self-driving cars (and LIDAR)

Here is an interesting podcast with Austin Russell, who is CEO of Luminar Technologies. Luminar specializes in LIDAR vision systems for autonomous vehicles and has already cut deals with carmakers such as a Volvo. Starting as early as next year, Volvo hopes to start rolling out “fully autonomous highway driving” using LIDAR. And, supposedly, Luminar makes the best kind of LIDAR with ranges of up to 250m. But not everyone believes that LIDAR will be a necessary component of autonomy going forward. Tesla instead relies on vision (lots of cameras and fancy AI software), and Elon Musk has famously said that anyone relying on LIDAR will ultimately be doomed. Time will tell, though I am in the LIDAR camp because of the recency bias that this podcast has created. And in the interim, Luminar going public at the end of last year has made Austin Russell the youngest self-made billionaire in America.


  1. Peter James

    I think it’s more a matter of Tesla’s overall approach that’s going to win them the short term and long term game. No other company is ballsy enough to release a beta to collect real world edge case data from thousands of drivers simultaneously all over the country (world?). Every other company I know of is adding knowledge in a linear fashion. Tesla is adding knowledge exponentially with the beta + AI neural network. Everyone else is aiming for Level 4 autonomy and worrying about 5 once 4 is perfected. Tesla is going straight for Level 5. They’re so close to solving it and then they’re going to license it. So every automaker is going to be faced with the high cost of developing their own tech to maybe solve it in a few years or the cost of licensing Tesla’s already perfected tech right away. In my book, Tesla already won. Watch how Tesla’s FSD handles these incredible edge cases:

    Dark pedestrians crossing with little warning, oncoming traffic crossing the median, double parked cars blocking half the lane. AND all at night! Many humans struggle with these conditions. FSD wasn’t disengaged once. No one else is even close to this.


  2. Pingback: Luminar announces vision for autonomous vehicle future – BRANDON DONNELLY

  3. Pingback: Optimistic and excited – BRANDON DONNELLY

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