Luminar Partners With Mercedes-Benz to Add Lidar to Production L3 Self-Driving Cars

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit is also investing $20.2M in Luminar as they work on putting sensors into production vehicles.


From left: Luminar co-founder Austin Russell and Daimler and Mercedes-Benz board member and CTO Markus Schäfer.

Lidar providers have been busy partnering with automakers in the ongoing race to develop autonomous vehicles. Today, Mercedes-Benz and Luminar Technologies Inc. announced that they are working together “to accelerate development of future automated driving technologies for passenger cars.” The automaker has also taken a $20.2 million stake in the lidar provider.

“Luminar is the perfect addition to our existing roster of first-class cooperations with leading and cutting–edge tech companies,” stated Markus Schäfer, member of the management board of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, as well as chief technology officer responsible for development and procurement.

“Mercedes-Benz’s achievement of SAE Level 3 already marked a huge milestone for automated driving, and I am absolutely convinced that partnerships will increase our level of ambition for what is possible in future,” he added. “Cooperation is an essential part of Mercedes-Benz’s strategy. Therefore, I am highly delighted to have [CEO] Austin Russell and Luminar on board for our journey.”

Orlando, Fla.-based Luminar said it has spent the past decade developing the hardware and software for more than 50 industry partners and investors, including automotive manufacturers Volvo Cars for consumer vehicles and Daimler Truck AG for commercial trucks. The company has also partnered with NVIDIA and Intel’s Mobileye unit as it builds next-generation safety and autonomous capabilities for production vehicles.

Mercedes to use Luminar lidar in production

Mercedes-Benz said it has developed “active and passive vehicle safety measures for almost 70 years, not only for the benefit of Mercedes drivers, but also for that of other road users.” Its technologies include advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for cruise control, distance control, steering, and changing lanes.

With DRIVE PILOT, Mercedes-Benz said it will offer SAE Level 3 automated driving to customers of its luxury vehicles. In December 2021, the company claimed that it was the first automaker worldwide to secure internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving.

Mercedes-Benz said its DRIVE PILOT automated driving system will enter series production in the S-Class and EQS this year. The company said it expects to “industrialize and integrate” Luminar's lidar technology into Mercedes-Benz's series production vehicles.

“By shortening development cycles and strengthening technology partnerships, Mercedes-Benz seeks to ensure that its vehicles have the most up-to-date technologies,” said the automaker. Mercedes-Benz added that it will share a “data-driven development approach for continuous product improvement and updates” with Luminar as part of the partnership.

“This partnership is a landmark moment in the industry, demonstrating how substantially increased safety and autonomous driving functions on consumer vehicles are going from sci-fi to mainstream,” said Russell. “Mercedes-Benz has always been a technological leader and first mover for the industry, with the brand synonymous with automotive innovation, safety, luxury, and quality.”

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From left: Luminar co-founder Austin Russell and Daimler and Mercedes-Benz board member and CTO Markus Schäfer.

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