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 LiDARThe 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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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Volvo will install 60 ChargePoint chargers at Starbucks locations in the west and Northwest.

Volvo

Volvo plans to be an electric-only automaker by 2030, and along the way to that goal, the automaker is investing in services and infrastructure to support its vehicles. Today, Volvo announced a partnership with coffee giant Starbucks that will provide dozens of chargers at coffee shops in the west and northwest U.S.

As part of the deal, Volvo will install up to 60 company-branded chargers at up to 15 Starbucks stores on the route between Denver and Seattle. Volvo says it aims to install charging locations every 100 miles along the 1,350-mile route between the Mile-High City and Starbucks hometown of Seattle.

Volvo-Starbucks PartnershipVolvo's goal is to install a charger every 100 miles. Volvo

Though they'll have Volvo's name on the front, the chargers are from ChargePoint, and drivers will use a built-in ChargePoint app to access services. The function is available in the vehicle's infotainment system, and will help locate and use the chargers. Volvo says all EV drivers will be able to access the chargers for a fee, but notes that its owners will get free or discounted charging.

A Volvo-Starbucks partnership isn't as crazy as it sounds at first. Beyond the fact that there's likely quite a bit of overlap in both brands' customers, the move furthers Starbucks' sustainability goals and provides Volvo owners with a free or low-cost charging solution. The project should be done by the end of this year, so keep your eyes open if you're getting coffee in a Volvo EV in the area.

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