Transportation

Toyota Picks Florida-Based Luminar for Next-Gen Self-Driving Sensor Tech

The new sensors will be used on upcoming Toyota test vehicles.

by Marco Santana, Orlando Sentinel / September 29, 2017

(TNS) -- A company that has a major office in Central Florida and builds technology used in autonomous vehicles received a vote of confidence from a major auto manufacturer.

Sensors made by Luminar Technologies will be used in the next generation self-driving cars to be used at the Toyota Research Institute.

Luminar has a 50,000-square-foot facility at University of Central Florida’s Research Park.

Chief Technology Officer Jason Eichenholz said the region’s pool of talent has helped the company quickly build a team that has significant experience in LiDar, which relies on laser lights to detect objects.

“All of this has come together to build a system that meets the needs of the world’s top AV programs, including Toyota Research Institute,” he said.

The sensors will be embedded within Toyota Research Institute’s latest test vehicle, Platform 2.1.

The platform will be the first deep integration of Luminar’s technology.

“We moved swiftly and early to adopt the Luminar platform into our fleet, and as a result we’re rapidly advancing our program,” Toyota Research Institute chief technology officer James Kuffner said. “The level of data fidelity and range is unlike anything we’ve seen and is essential to be able to develop and deliver the most advanced automated driving systems.”

Luminar, which has a Portola Valley, Calif., location along with its Central Florida facility, hosts manufacture and design of its sensor here.

The sensor is meant to make self-driving cars safer.

The company received widespread media coverage when it emerged from self-imposed stealth in April. At the time, the company said four autonomous vehicle manufacturers had ordered test versions of its technology.

More than half of the company’s roughly 150 employees, which include former employees of the U.S. military, NASA and Lockheed Martin, work in Orlando.

©2017 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.