Self-Driving

Volvo partners with Luminar for integrated full self-driving tech in redesigned 2022 XC90

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a sensing method that uses light to measure the range from a known object to an unknown object.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo will be partnering with Luminar for LiDAR and perception technology on the next generation of their cars, starting with the 2022 XC90. The partnership is set to yield the first fully self-driving technology for highways, called Highway Pilot, and paves the way for future active safety developments, according to a release. There are currently no self-driving cars on the market.

According to a release, "Luminar's technology is based on its high performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity."

2022 Volvo XC90 LiDAR The LiDAR tech will be integrated into the roof of the next-gen XC90, seen here.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo's next-gen SPA 2 vehicle architecture is said to be hardware-ready for autonomous driving starting in 2022, with Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof of the vehicle.

Buyers who opt for Highway Pilot on their vehicles will have the technology activated via an over-the-air (OTA) update. It will only be activated once the vehicle has determined it is safe via geographic locations and conditions. Volvo has not specified which highways they are designating as safe.

As described by Volvo, "To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar's perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways."

"Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Cars. "At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction."

Volvo has been testing self-driving technology in vehicles for years, including trials near its headquarters in Sweden. Its in-house Drive Me program was designed to be suitable for families that were given special training.

The partnership between Luminar and Volvo also extends to exploring LiDAR's role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA 2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard. This means that everything from the S90 to the XC40 could get the tech as well.

ADAS isn't as easy to scale up or down as cruise control. Because of the variety of vehicle angles and sight lines, each model requires its own tuned engineering from multiple angles. However, each vehicle may use the same hardware and software.

As part of the agreement, Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Silicon Valley-based Luminar.

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OTA software updates

Tesla rolls back FSD beta before issuing fix

Tesla issued a beta update but quickly pulled it back.

Tesla

Tesla's Full Self-Driving tech is currently in public beta testing, which means that the automaker allows a subset of its owners to download the software to their cars. Over the weekend, Tesla released FSD beta 10.3 and users started reporting issues almost immediately. Since Tesla's PR department is essentially CEO Elon Musk's Twitter account, he took to social media to outline the process to fix problems with the beta.

Tesla FSD Drivers reported issues with vehicle safety systems after updating.Tesla

Musk tweeted that public beta version 10.3 was rolled back to 10.2. "Please note, this is to be expected with beta software," he said. Issues began popping up with Tesla owners on various forums and on social media. Drivers reported that cars shut off active safety features without their input and some noted that their forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking systems malfunctioned, causing the cars to apply the brakes without any apparent danger in the road ahead.

Tesla FSD A new beta was released this morning with fixes for the problems.Tesla

Early this morning, Musk tweeted again to note that beta version 10.3.1 is rolling out now, which would re-update users to the latest version with fixes. All of this illustrates how FSD is not final and has a way to go before it's ready for showtime. Developing software of any type is difficult work, made even harder by the fact that public roads are so unpredictable at times. So, while Tesla's public beta approach, which puts unproven functions into the hands of everyday drivers, may not be the most palatable for many of us on the roads at the same time, it's certainly netting the company plenty of data to work with.

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The entire VW lineup sees new features and tech.

Volkswagen

The 2022 Volkswagen lineup will be tech-forward and will have more standard features than before. That's the message the automaker sent with its most recent announcement, which gives us a solid look at the company's 2022 catalog and the standard features that will be distributed across it.

Most new VW models feature the brand's Digital Cockpit system, which is a digital gauge cluster that can display maps, audio and entertainment features, and more. The Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf GTI, and Golf R all come with the feature.


2022 Golf R VW's Digital Cockpit is not standard on several models.Volkswagen


VW's IQ.DRIVE system is also widely standard in the automaker's catalog. The technology includes a hands-on semi-automated driving function with lane centering and capacitive feedback on the steering wheel. Volkswagen says that in town, the system can help alert drivers to upcoming obstacles or to sudden changes in traffic activity ahead. IQ.DRIVE uses front and rear radar, a front camera, and several ultrasound sensors.

Several advanced driver assist features are also included in the IQ.DRIVE system. They include forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, active blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, and a semi-automated vehicle assistance system.


2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The Tiguan gets updated styling for the new model year.Volkswagen


Beyond tech updates for the new model year, Volkswagen has made changes to several other models' styling and powertrains. The Jetta, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan received fresh styling for the new model year, while the Arteon sedan now comes with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.


2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos is brand-new for 2022.Volkswagen


Finally, a new vehicle hits the VW lineup for 2022. The Taos is a compact SUV with styling similar to that of the Atlas SUV. It also gets the Digital Cockpit system as standard kit, as well as a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine and optional all-wheel drive. The Taos starts at around $23,000 before destination.

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