Under the Hood of Luminar’s Long-Reach Lidar

This spring, the U.S. startup Luminar Technologies announced a lidar able to achieve that 200-meter range by using a 1550-nm laser and showed its system at Spectrum’s offices. Last week Luminar mounted its system on a standard Mercedes-Benz and showed it outside the Laser World of Photonics trade show in Munich.

The key to that success is looser safety rules that let Luminar’s lasers fire pulses 40 times more powerful at 1550 nm than 905-nm lasers are allowed to fire in a conventional car. That extra power extends the long-wavelength lidar’s range by a factor of 10 and its resolution a factor of 50.