Austin Russell, Luminar founder and CEO, with Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz AG chief know-how officer at Mercedes-Benz’ Sindelfingen, Germany plant.


Mercedes-Benz mentioned Thursday it plans to make use of lidar know-how from Luminar in its subsequent era of automobiles, driving shares of the tech start-up 18% greater in buying and selling Thursday morning.

As a part of the settlement, the German automaker is anticipated to amass as much as 1.5 million shares of Luminar over time as milestones are met. The businesses additionally agreed to share information.

Luminar is getting ready for serial manufacturing of its lidar know-how later this yr. The businesses declined to say when Mercedes-Benz plans to start utilizing the lidar know-how in its automobiles, however Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell mentioned it might be in “the not too distant future.”

Luminar CEO and founder Austin Russell discusses how the corporate’s Iris lidar system is ready to “see” its environment. It shows them in colourful traces representing how far the objects are from the car.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

“It is an enormous deal for Luminar,” he mentioned throughout a web-based interview from Germany. “It is one other main OEM announcement and a significant industrial win for us.”

Luminar final yr introduced Volvo would be the first automaker to supply Luminar’s lidar know-how as customary on a brand new electrical flagship SUV that is scheduled to be unveiled this yr. Russell described the cope with Mercedes-Benz as “comparable in lots of respects” to Luminar’s cope with Volvo.

Lidars, or gentle detection and ranging methods, can sense environment and assist automobiles keep away from obstacles. They use gentle to create high-resolution photos that present a extra correct view of the world than cameras or radar alone.

Luminar’s inventory closed Wednesday at $13.45 a share, down 6.7%. Shares of Luminar, which went public by a SPAC deal in December 2020, have been down 19% this month. Its market cap is $4.9 billion.

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