Volve says it’ll start selling LIDAR-equipped cars in 2022, which the Swedish automaker says will be able to drive themselves on highways with no human intervention. The Verge reports: [M]ost LIDAR are ridiculously expensive, with the leading suppliers pricing theirs at around $75,000. But now, Volvo says it has found a LIDAR maker that can produce the sensors cheap enough to justify installing them on its consumer vehicles — which it says will allow these cars to drive themselves. In 2018, Volvo made a “strategic investment” in a little-known Florida-based LIDAR company called Luminar to use the startup’s high-resolution long-range sensor to build self-driving cars.
It’s an ambitious plan that carries its own risks and sets Volvo apart from its competitors, many of which are planning to launch self-driving technology as part of fleets of robotaxis rather than production cars for personal ownership. They argue this will help amortize the costs of not just the LIDAR, but also the high-powered computing power needed to enable self-driving cars. But Volvo believes that by limiting the operational domain — or conditions under which the car can drive autonomously — to just highways, it is creating vehicle technology that is not only safer, but less costly as well. Volvo says it will roll out its self-driving highway feature, dubbed “Highway Pilot,” as part of its next big platform update, the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA2), which will arrive with the next-generation XC90 SUV in 2022. SPA2 will also underpin the automaker’s upcoming electric vehicles, the Polestar 3 SUV and the XC40 Recharge.