Mercedes-Benz teams up with Luminar on self-driving technology

The Mercedes-Benz logo is pictured at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

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San Francisco, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz will partner with autonomous sensor maker Luminar Technologies Inc (LAZR.O) to enable fully automated highway driving for its next-generation vehicles, a said the founder of Luminar.

Automakers from Tesla to GM and Volvo are planning to introduce self-driving vehicles, though regulatory and technological challenges remain. Read more

Tech companies such as Alphabet’s Waymo and Cruise are also developing self-driving taxis or trucks for commercial use, such as transportation and delivery services.

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Autonomous vehicles “are really going mainstream with Mercedes,” Luminar CEO Austin Russell told Reuters, without disclosing a timeline for putting the technology in Mercedes vehicles.

He said both would develop “true” range capabilities, including enhanced safety capabilities such as automatic braking.

General Motors Co (GM.N) is working with its majority-owned Cruise self-driving unit to introduce a personal autonomous vehicle as early as mid-decade, chief executive Mary Barra said this month.

“If you want to be able to access truly autonomous capabilities in a consumer vehicle, and you have to industrialize the hardware, the software, all of these systems that come into play. It’s actually completely different from the work that the robo – taxi companies worked,” Russell said.

He said it’s difficult to mass-produce lidars and ensure they’re robust enough to meet the stringent requirements of automakers.

“It’s a completely different type of business to go from a science and technology company to an automotive company.”

Lidars, which use laser light pulses to measure the distance between the sensor and the target object, are widely considered essential to achieving fully autonomous driving. But Tesla shunned the sensor, saying it’s expensive and unnecessary.

Volvo Cars (VOLCARb.ST) and Luminar announced earlier this month that they will put a hands-free driving system in an upcoming electric sport utility vehicle.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Kim Coghill

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