Lidar startup Luminar announced today that it’s received $100 million in new funding, as the company also introduced Iris, an autonomous platform that it expects to bring to production vehicles by 2022 — for less than $1,000.
The new $100 million brings Luminar’s total funding to more than $250 million. A number of investors were listed, including Moore Strategic Ventures and Volvo Cars Tech Fund.
Luminar says its new Iris platform will launch commercially on production vehicles starting in 2022. It boasts that Iris is “the first sensing platform to exceed the essential performance, safety, cost, and auto-grade requirements needed to deliver Level 3 and 4 autonomy to consumers.”
Luminar is eyeing a sub-$1,000 pricing target in volume for the Level 4-capable Iris. A lower-level configuration for ADAS/Level 2 functionality would be even less expensive, with Luminar targeting a sub-$500 price. Luminar CEO Austin Russell said,
We’re at a stage where everyone in the industry is hacking together Frankenstein solutions with off-the-shelf parts for their R&D programs, but to successfully achieve series production autonomy, hardware and software have to be seamlessly developed and integrated in tandem. This combined, turnkey solution for series production vehicles is key to democratizing autonomy in the industry, enabling every automaker to deliver on the promise of self-driving capabilities on their vehicles.
A video released by Luminar shows Iris units placed on vehicles in a number of different ways — on the roof, behind the windshield, or under or on the headlights. Here’s a closer look at the unit itself:
A commercially available lidar platform at these prices can be a jump ahead for autonomous driving on most vehicles, whether offered as an option from manufacturers, or presented as an after-market addition.
Iris is still a few years away, but while carmakers and other autonomy-focused companies will continue to work on their own solutions, including complete self-driving solutions, it looks like it may be a viable, inexpensive option in the not-too-distant future.
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