Luminar drives vertical integration with photonics acquisition

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US-based lidar developer Luminar is set to acquire high-performance laser manufacturer Freedom Photonics. The move follows a multi-year collaboration between the two companies and, says Luminar, will bring in-house its California-based partner’s next-generation chip-scale laser technology, IP and production expertise for use in its lidar systems.

Florida-headquartered Luminar hopes that vertical integration across its core lidar components will enable low costs, supply chain security and improved performance. The transaction follows the acquisition of Black Forest Engineering for custom signal processing chips in 2017 and OptoGration for receiver chips in 2021.

“Component-level innovation and integration are critical to our performance, cost and continued automotive technology leadership. Bringing Freedom Photonics into Luminar enables a new level of economies of scale, deepens our competitive moat and strengthens our future technology roadmap,” said Jason Eichenholz, co-founder and CTO at Luminar. “We’ve worked closely with the Freedom team for the past several years. They have proved to be the best in the world for breakthrough semiconductor laser chip technology, where both power and beam quality are needed simultaneously for true high resolution at long range.”

The Freedom Photonics executive team will continue to lead and expand the business upon the close of the transaction, which is expected in the second quarter of 2022. “Joining Luminar is the perfect opportunity for Freedom Photonics, providing us with an accelerated path to at-scale commercialization of our world-class diode laser technologies,” added Milan Mashanovitch, co-founder and CEO at Freedom Photonics. “In addition to helping extend Luminar’s automotive industry leadership, we will continue to serve and grow our broad customer base across other key markets.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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