May 28, 2022

Luminar, a company that makes vision-based lidars and machine-sensing technology for autonomous vehicles, is acquiring high-performance laser maker Freedom Photonics on Monday. This move by Luminar is the latest step in vertically integrating Lidar core components to bring more accurate and lower cost products to market.

“The deal has been signed and is expected to close in the second quarter, and it really increases our cost roadmap for the future along with the use of Freedom Photonics’ high power laser and associated photonic integrated circuit technologies to optimize performance. . sensor. improvement,” said Jason Eichenholtz, co-founder and CTO of Luminar, gaming-updates.

Whether it’s city streets or highways, the main challenge facing autonomous vehicle systems is the ability to see and recognize objects over long distances. A powerful laser pulse and high quality beams are critical, two components of what is needed to achieve the dot density and resolution required for an AV system to be able to determine whether it sees a bus or a person 300 meters under the road. at Freedom Photonics Eichenholz.

The deal, which is the result of a years-long partnership between the two companies, not only improves the quality of Luminar’s lidar, but also allows Luminar to control higher costs throughout the supply chain. It’s not that lasers are especially hard to find, but that “lasers with the right performance parameters to unlock autonomy and provide the proactive protection that’s common in the automotive environment are much harder to find,” Eichenholtz said.

Lidar is one of the most expensive components of autonomous driving systems, making it difficult to commercialize and scale. The cost savings are significant, and Luminar is actively pursuing this as it pursues its stated goal of achieving sub-$100 materials costs for the three main lidar hardware components known as “Eichengoltz stools.” “Three legs,” says the Receiver. , ASIC or Processing Power, and a laser from Freedom Photonics.

Luminar has already acquired the technology and commands for the other two chair legs. The 2017 acquisition of Black Forest Engineers, a manufacturer of custom signal processing chips, allowed Luminar to reduce the cost of the receiver from thousands of dollars to $3. Eichenholtz said last year’s acquisition of Optogration and its receiver chips also opened up new opportunities for performance and cost savings.

“Joining Luminar is a great opportunity for Freedom Photonics, which gives us an accelerated path to large-scale commercialization of our world-class laser chip technologies,” said Milan Mashanovic, CEO of Freedom Photonics. “This will not only help solidify Luminar’s leadership in the automotive industry, but will also give us more opportunities to support and scale customers in other verticals at the same time.”

Freedom Photonics employees will also be acquired by Luminar and the executive team will continue to run the company after the deal closes.

The terms of the full share deal will not be disclosed until the end of Monday, when Luminor files with regulators.

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