Luminar is using lidar to help build the ‘uncrashable car’

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EMBARGO: June 15, 2021, 10:30am ET
EMBARGO: June 15, 2021, 10:30am ET | Photo by Andrew J. Hawkins / The Verge

Austin Russell, the 26-year-old CEO of lidar maker Luminar, folds his lanky six-foot, four-inch frame into the back of a Toyota RAV4 and declares with giddy enthusiasm: “This is our first live demo!”

It may seem late in the game for a public demo, especially for a company that was founded in 2012 and recently went public via a $3.4 billion SPAC deal. There will be an even longer wait for those who want to see Luminar’s Iris lidar sensors in action: series production of Volvo vehicles with the company’s laser sensors embedded in the roof is not scheduled to begin until late 2022.

But on a rainy day in Manhattan, Russell is clearly excited to show off what Iris can do. He is in New York City for an event...

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