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Luminar announces vision for autonomous vehicle future

Luminar Technologies, which is an autonomous vehicle technology company that I have written about before, just hosted its first ever “Studio Day” in New York City this week. And at the event they announced two new technologies.

The first is called Iris, which is a small lidar device that is intended to be integrated into regular consumer production vehicles — on the roof just above the windshield. And supposedly the company is on track to have these into full production and available to their OEM partners by the end of next year (2022).

The second technology is something that they are calling Blade, which is a lidar system that can offer a 360 degree field of vision and is intended for use in robo-taxis, trucks, and other consumer vehicles. It’s called Blade because it’s kind of like a blade that wraps around the tops of these vehicles.

We’ve been talking about autonomous vehicles for what seems like a long time. And it is now clear that this is not an easy problem to solve. But from what I have read, lidar seems like the promising technology and something that will become necessary for full autonomy. So I am now long $LAZR. Whether this is the right move is still to be determined.

The full Studio Day video is embedded at the top of this post. If you’re reading via email subscription and can’t see it, click here.

I liked the bit (just after the 9 minute mark) about how headlights were first introduced and how it took some time before they were fully absorbed and integrated into the design of cars. Today they are now a signature design element for most car brands. It’s a clever parallel for what Luminar is trying to do with Iris and Blade.

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