Ed Ludlow | Bloomberg
Lucid Group Inc. said its debut battery-powered electric vehicle will be the first production vehicle in the US to include a dedicated laser sensor or lidar, providing a wide range of advanced driver assistance features.
A system of cameras, radar and lidar, called DreamDrive Pro, will make the Lucid Air sedan capable of self-parking, provide it with an assistant when driving on the freeway, and another for driving at low speeds in traffic. The cab has an infrared camera that monitors head position, gaze and blinking, as well as pressure sensors on the wheel to determine if the driver is disabled and bring the vehicle to a complete stop in an emergency.
Newark, California-based Lucid will provide this system as standard for debut sedan models. The Air Dream Edition is priced at $ 169,000 and the Grand Touring model is priced at $ 139,000. Deliveries of both models are due to begin this year. The company’s announcement on Tuesday did not include pricing or specification details for its planned mass market models.
Automakers are placing increased emphasis on sensors and related software to improve vehicle safety while increasing their margins through higher software margins. These technologies also serve as a stepping stone to autonomous driving. General Motors Co. plans to offer a hands-free driving system on most future models. Volvo Car AB will use lidar from Luminar Techhnologies Inc. in an SUV next year is a prelude to letting motorists switch off while on the highway.
But the industry is divided into the best technologies.
Tesla Inc., a leader in the electric vehicle market, is also offering enhanced driver assistance features and is working on a complete autonomous driving software update that will rely solely on camera technology. CEO Elon Musk has called other sensors “crutches” in the pursuit of fully autonomous driving systems. However, fatal accidents related to Tesla technology have caught the attention of regulators and lawmakers.
“As more advanced driving features are added, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that drivers are alert, especially when the vehicle is assisting in driving rather than fully mastering the driving functions,” said Andrew Grant, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “Premium cars have better margins, so manufacturers have the opportunity to add lidars and still profit from the vehicles.”
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