Luminar Inks Deal To Sell Laser Sensors To Intel’s Mobileye Ahead Of Nasdaq Listing

Luminar, a fast-growing maker of laser lidar sensors that help self-driving cars see the world, has landed a deal to supply its high-tech devices to Intel’s Mobileye that boosts potential future revenue as the young company prepares for a Nasdaq listing. 

Created and led by 25-year-old optics prodigy Austin Russell, Luminar signed a deal to supply an unspecified number of the optical sensors for Mobileye’s next-generation driverless system. Mobileye, a supplier of camera-based chips and software to the global auto industry that Intel bought in 2017, has relied mainly on digital cameras as the primary vision source for its autonomous vehicle architecture. It will work with Palo Alto-based Luminar to integrate lidar into a so-called Level 4 autonomous fleet that will operate in Tel Aviv, Dubai, Paris and Daegu City, South Korea

“They’ve been been the absolute leaders on assisted driving, and autonomy is where you’re going to partner up,” Russell tells Forbes. “That’s where lidar really comes into play to enable  drive-out capability. It’s super exciting and we couldn’t have a better partner. Their camera system is absolutely complimentary to what we do.”

Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Russell says they don’t include Mobileye taking an equity stake in his company. With the new partnership, Luminar says it has future orders that may generate revenue of $1.3 billion. 

Lidar’s ability to instantly create detailed 3D, point-cloud maps of a vehicle’s surroundings in daylight or darkness has made it essential technology for companies working to perfect autonomous driving, with the notable exception of Tesla. CEO Elon Musk, has called lidar a “fool’s errand” and kept it out of his electric vehicles. Regardless, Luminar, Velodyne, Waymo (which makes its own lidar sensors) and newer players including Aeva argue that lidar’s ability to measure depth is vital and that combining it with cameras and radar ensures autonomous systems are safe. 

“The camera gets you the first 99%” of visual data for self-driving vehicles, says Russell (a Forbes 30 Under 30 alum). “Lidar gets you that last 1%” 

Luminar is working with 50 different customers and has previously announced supply deals with Volvo Cars and Daimler. The company announced plans in August to list shares on Nasdaq through a SPAC merger with Gores Metropoulos, an affiliate of The Gores Group investment firm and Metropoulos & Co., It will trade under the ticker “LAZR” upon completion of the deal in December. The transaction includes $400 million of cash from Gores Metropoulos and $170 million of additional funds from investors including Peter Thiel, Volvo Cars Tech Fund and Alec Gores.

The move to go public boosts Luminar’s market capitalization to more than $3 billion and will likely turn Russell into the youngest billionaire in the U.S.

Shares of Gores Metropoulos (GMHI) rose 3.8% to $11 in morning Nasdaq trading.

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