Volvo Cars has partnered with technology firm Luminar to incorporate LiDAR and perception technology into Volvo’s next-generation cars.

This partnership is expected to help Volvo deliver its first fully self-driving technology for highways and also channels the way for future active safety developments.

Luminar LiDAR will be seamlessly integrated into the roof of the SPA 2 modular vehicle architecture, which will become available as hardware for autonomous driving in a few years.

Volvo Cars claimed that vehicles based on SPA 2 will be updated with software automatically, and in case customers opt for it, the Highway Pilot feature will enable fully autonomous highway driving once it is verified as safe for individual geographic locations.

Volvo Cars chief technology officer Henrik Green said: “Autonomous drive has the potential to be one of the most lifesaving technologies in history, if introduced responsibly and safely. Providing our future cars with the vision they require to make safe decisions is an important step in that direction.”

Besides the Highway Pilot feature, the two firms are also looking at LiDAR’s role in strengthening future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for fitting a LiDAR sensor as standard in all future SPA2-based cars.

The LiDAR sensors emit millions of pulses of laser light for the precise detection of objects by scanning the environment in 3D. It helps to create a temporary, real-time map without any need for an internet connection.

LiDAR is considered to be essential in developing cars that can travel safely in autonomous mode, by providing vehicles with the dependable vision and perception that otherwise cameras and radar alone would not be able to offer.

To equip the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar’s perception technology will be brought together with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as braking, steering, and battery power installed on the next generation cars.

Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly raise its minority stake in Luminar.

Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell said: “Volvo is recognised as the pioneer of automotive safety, having driven standardisation across the industry for the most advanced life-saving technologies.

“The next era of safety lies within autonomous driving and once again, Volvo has taken the lead with a major industry milestone. We’ve solved the key cost, performance, and auto-grade challenges to make series production possible, and alongside Volvo are making the technology available to the world.”