Luminar acquires lidar data company Civil Maps

Lidar hardware company Luminar announced it has acquired Civil Maps, a lidar data company based in San Francisco. The acquisition brings ultra-detailed and automatically updating 3D maps of various cities into Luminar’s fold as it plans to bring fully autonomous vehicles into reality.

Luminar will integrate the Civil Maps assets, which include navigation data, into its Sentinel platform. Sentinel is the company’s full-stack software suite solution that’s currently in development for lidar-equipped cars, like the upcoming Volvo EX90.

The news comes during CES 2023, where Luminar is set to showcase vehicles from its partners, Volvo and Chinese automaker SIAC. The vehicles are equipped with fully integrated lidar systems, including a fairly inconspicuous roofliner sensor (at least, compared to other roof rack lidar examples out there).

SIAC is using Luminar’s lidar for the Rising Auto R7 EV, which went into production last October in China. The R7 is the first vehicle with full Luminar hardware that will be available to customers and will eventually be capable of autonomous driving on highways.

The goal for the automakers — and Luminar — is to build autonomous vehicles using lidar laser tech that can detect the shapes and distances of objects. It’s a technology that Tesla CEO Elon Musk dismisses, preferring to use camera vision-based AI for his company. Tesla was later found to be testing Luminar technology for internal purposes.

Luminar is also working with Mercedes-Benz, which acquired about $20.2 million worth of the company’s shares a year ago. And at CES this week, Luminar announced that more OEM automotive partnerships are in play — though it won’t reveal what they are yet until later in the year. What it will reveal right now, though, is its new logo.