Daimler Truck AG and the provider of lidar hardware and software technology Luminar Technologies, Inc. will cooperate more closely. The aim is to bring highly automated trucks (SAE Level 4) in series to the roads worldwide. Initially, the focus will be on long-haul applications on US highways. Daimler Trucks in Stuttgart (Germany), its US subsidiary Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and Torc Robotics and the experts from Luminar will work closely together to further develop Luminar’s lidar technology for highway-relevant speeds. This concerns in particular the object recognition, the corresponding data processing and the performance of the entire system. To strengthen the partnership, Daimler Trucks has acquired a minority stake in Luminar.
Peter Vaughan Schmidt, Head of the Autonomous Technology Group at Daimler Trucks: “Luminar has pioneered the development of a critical technology to bring automated vehicles to the road. The company has unique technologies for object detection at long distances and at high speeds on highways. It is our common goal to enable the safe use of highly automated trucks and thus contribute to the further development of the entire industry”.
The partners see great potential in autonomous trucks to significantly improve efficiency and safety in logistics. The focus of the joint activities will initially be on US highways. This clearly defined application will enable the commercial use of series-produced vehicles within a shorter period of time – in contrast to developments for autonomous urban traffic.
Luminar develops vehicle sensors and software for autonomous driving. Founded in 2012, the company has now acquired 50 industrial partners, including seven of the world’s ten leading car manufacturers. As recently as last August, Luminar announced its intention to merge with a company called Gores Metropoulos, Inc. and then go public.
Daimler Trucks, for its part, is also quite active in developing the technology of autonomous trucks. Since spring 2019, Daimler Trucks has been working with Torc Robotics, a company specialising in autonomous driving. In September of the same year Torc became part of the Autonomous Technology Group of Daimler Trucks. The partners focus on the deployment of a level 4 test fleet on the road, the development of a corresponding truck chassis, the introduction of official test protocols and an official certification process for truck safety drivers, as well as extended software functions. Currently, the Autonomous Technology Group is expanding the testing of the highly automated trucks to New Mexico. For this purpose, the unit is setting up an additional test centre in Albuquerque. The data obtained in this new environment will also be used this year to test vehicles with advanced systems. In addition, Daimler Trucks recently announced a cooperation with Waymo, Google’s technology company, to develop autonomous vehicles.