On Dec. 4, Luminar Technologies went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The $3.4 billion deal transformed CEO and founder Austin Russell into the youngest self-made billionaire at age 25.
Russell actually started the company when he was 17, thanks to funding from the Thiel Foundation. Peter Thiel’s venture funding is specifically geared toward young people, and accepting the fellowship requires people to drop out of school. For Russell, that meant leaving Stanford University to start a company of his own.
Thus came Luminar.
How Luminar helps autonomous vehicles see
In March 2020, Luminar merged with Gores Metropoulos, Inc. to help expand its offering of LiDar technology. According to Russell, Luminar’s LiDar systems help self-driving cars adhere to evolving safety standards. In addition, it helps keep costs down for an otherwise pricey endeavor. LiDar systems specifically work with levels 3–5 autonomy.
In addition, Luminar has two other products called Iris and Hydra. In 2022, Volvo will integrate Luminar’s hardware into their global vehicle platform. It will serve as the basis of the brand’s upcoming generation of passenger rides with premium active self-driving features.
Whatever the product, Luminar’s offerings work by sending a camera through the headlights of a vehicle so it can see the road ahead and make crucial algorithmic decisions.
Luminar is partnering with Intel and Daimler Trucks
Volvo isn’t the only company hopping on the Luminar bandwagon. On October 30, Daimler Trucks and its subsidiaries will partner with Luminar to help propel the self-driving truck narrative.
Another Luminar partnership comes in the form of Intel Corp.’s Mobileye, a distance-measuring laser that functions in the mobility-as-a-service industry. In short, this is the foundation for driverless fleets to come.
In all, Luminar maintains 50 commercial partnerships. These networks span industries, like passenger vehicles, trucking, robo-taxis and more. The technology company already has a firm grasp on three quarters of its target audience.
Russell has his eyes set on autonomous driving
In a statement, Russell said, “We look forward to accelerating widespread commercial adoption of autonomy and proactive safety solutions and embarking on the next phase of our journey as a public company, which will solidify our leadership position well into the future and enable autonomy at an unprecedented scale.”
It seems that Russell—with all his success at such a young age—shows no signs of halting for the foreseeable future.
Find Luminar on the Nasdaq
— Steve Grasso (@grassosteve) December 1, 2020
Luminar has been added to the Nasdaq Exchange under the ticker symbol “LAZR.” If you want to invest in the future of autonomous driving, this company may just be the way to go. Immediately following their debut on the public market, the company’s per-share value rose 30%.
Of course, public offerings (even those that move through a SPAC) are inherently more volatile than seasoned symbols. However, it could very well be a sign of the market’s enthusiasm surrounding self-driving cars.