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Luminar launches Perception Engine with Subscription Service

Luminar introduced the industry’s most advanced LiDAR perception technology that enables safe driver-out-of-the-loop autonomy. This is achieved via deep integration of LiDAR sensing, software and compute, enabling the industry to transition from isolated component testing to successful commercialisation for Level 3 and 4 autonomous applications beginning on highways. Hydra begins shipping this quarter and is available through a new subscription model — the first of its kind for LiDAR.

At the CES in Las Vegas, Luminar demonstrated the technology’s capabilities in real-time: detecting and classifying objects out to 250M. Paired with Luminars sensors, its new Perception Compute Unit (PCU) reference design is powered by the NVIDIA Xavier SoC, which is already being embedded into production vehicles. This end-to-end solution will have the effect of substantially shortening and solidifying industry timelines, enabling autonomy to be commercialized in production in 2022.

With the release of Hydra, Luminar has transitioned its core business from selling sensors to a subscription-based service for its autonomous vehicle development partners that enables a deeper integration throughout development cycles, increasing development speed as well as enabling more focused feature development.

Hydra brings consolidation for LiDAR perception, localisation as well as mapping; simplified sensor updates and diagnostics; a redundant perception stack for full autonomy development; and a seamless bridge from the Hydra development platform to the Iris series production system as the perception interface will be the same as platforms move into series production and public release. Ultimately, this allows partners to stay focused on what they do best: building autonomous vehicles at scale for personal and commercial transportation needs for decades to come.

“Luminar LiDAR is now the established industry gold standard for performance and safety, and the perfect platform to enable the dramatic software and perception improvements required for automakers to transition from test vehicles to commercial autonomy,” said Austin Russell, Founder and CEO, Luminar Technologies. “We’ve been quietly developing Hydra, the most advanced 3D perception system in the industry, for over three years now and it’s time for our 40 partners and the rest of the world to see it.”

Hydra is an integrated product of three key self-driving technologies including Luminar’s LiDAR, built from the chip-level up; Luminar’s new software suite, built and optimised specifically for Luminar LiDAR and Luminar’s new perception computer, a reference design built on the NVIDIA Xavier SoC

The Hydra features LiDAR Super-Resolution, advanced interlacing and adaptive scanning capabilities to dramatically increase effective resolution, also enabling high resolution at higher frame rates like 20 to 30 hertz. The sensor’s effective range has been doubled from 250 to 500 meters. This is helpful for applications such as long-haul trucking where braking distances can be much longer than cars.

Hydra features velocity point cloud attributes at both the point and object level. The approach is similar to Pulse-Doppler Radar. Unlike FMCW approaches, the Luminar velocity attribute does not reduce measurement rate and has the benefit of measuring velocity of objects moving non-radially.

Each measured point contains an object class attribute. Semantic Segmentation enables smart detection and tracking algorithms as well as intelligent vehicle reactions to different types of objects. Frame-level instance detection of objects, lane markings as well as road surfaces and free space combined with Luminar’s Highway-focused tracking algorithms provide reliable, safe and stable data for decision-making algorithms.

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