Luminar Technologies Inc has announced a strategic partnership with SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, the largest auto maker in China and a Fortune Global 100 company. Luminar’s Iris lidar and components from its Sentinel software system will underpin the autonomous capabilities and advanced safety features in SAIC’s new R brand vehicles set for series production. The R brand program is expected to begin series production with Luminar starting in 2022, with the parties’ longer-term goal being widespread standardization across all vehicle lines.
As part of the close collaboration, Luminar says it will also be establishing an office in Shanghai alongside SAIC Motor.
The companies claim the partnership will deliver the first autonomous production vehicles in China, establishing SAIC’s technology leadership position and Luminar’s production launch in the region. Luminar says its Iris lidar will be seamlessly integrated into the roofline of the R brand vehicles at the optimal vantage point, while acting symbolically as a crown of the vehicle for safety and autonomy. Certain software components in Luminar’s Sentinel solution, including object detection, classification and tracking, will also be integrated into R brand, helping to enable planned highway autonomy and proactive safety capabilities on the vehicles.
“SAIC has grown to establish itself as the largest auto maker in the world’s largest automotive market, and has no intention of slowing down when it comes to electric and autonomous vehicles,” said Austin Russell, founder and CEO of Luminar. “Instead, it is clearly leading the charge to set a new technology standard for both China and the industry at large. Luminar’s hardware and software are uniquely able to make SAIC’s vision a reality at series production scale.”
“Our new R brand line of vehicles will combine the best technology with luxury and comfort, and autonomous capabilities are central to that vision,” said Yang Xiaodong, VP of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited. “The only autonomous vehicle company we seriously considered was Luminar – they are in a league of their own in lidar technology and software, uniquely enabling us to achieve our vision in series production.”
Luminar engineers will work closely with SAIC Motor engineers to integrate hardware and software technology into SAIC’s vehicles and fully optimize their performance and capabilities. This will include over-the-air updates to expand the operating domain of autonomy and further improve the safety of vehicles over time.