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The promise of self-driving cars rests heavily on the hardware that enables automobiles to “see” their surroundings. That’s where Luminar and its cutting-edge lidar technology come to play. The company hopes to outfit automobiles with its technology so that cars and commercial trucks can safely drive themselves on highways. (Some A.I. experts believe highway driving is an easier task to accomplish than city driving.) About 90% of auto accidents in the U.S. are due to driver misperception or error. And in theory, Luminar’s technology would help usher in one of the most important auto safety features since power brakes—cars that could detect when an accident might occur and safely maneuver themselves away. Luminar says it has 50 partners: It most recently landed a deal with Volvo to use its lidar technology in some of the company’s new cars in 2022. Luminar won’t be in the startup ranks much longer, however: In September, the company announced plans to go public in a so-called reverse merger with Gores Metropoulos, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. With the impending IPO, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, Luminar expects to raise $430 million at a valuation of $3.4 billion.

Company information

Austin Russell
No. of employees (approximate)350
Moore Strategic Ventures, Volvo Cars Tech Fund, Alec Gores, Van Tuyl Companies, Peter Thiel, Crescent Cove, Nick & Jill Woodman, VectoIQ
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