Startup Watch: Luminar

Last fall, I went with some Udacity colleagues to a Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence event that hosted a panel of speakers from startups in the world of self-driving cars.

One of the speakers was Austin Russell from a then-stealth company producing lidar. We asked his colleague about the name of the company and were told it was a secret.

Later in the event, the crowd started goading another attendee, George Hotz, into grilling the speakers. George rose to the occasion and asked Austin, “So, this all sounds great, but when is Luminar going to ship?”

So much for keeping the name secret.

This week, Luminar went public with all sorts of details about the company, their product, and the first-ever production run of sensors, starting this year.

Austin is a colorful and likeable character, and most of what I’ve read about Luminar quotes him stressing the superior performance of Luminar’s lidar sensors.

That’s awesome, but the main issue with lidar right now seems to be cost and volume, not performance.

Since Luminar has already talked about building 10,000 units, my question might be, what’s the cost?