Geely's Volvo Cars has made its first strategic investment via its newly-founded fund with a stake in Luminar, a start-up developing advanced sensors for use in autonomous vehicles.

The investment in the company, based in Palo Alto, California, and Orlando, Florida, deepens the automaker's existing collaboration which currently focuses on development and testing of its sensing technology on Volvo cars. LiDAR technology, which uses pulsed laser signals to detect objects, is a crucial element of creating safe autonomous vehicles.

"LiDAR is a key technology for enabling autonomous cars to navigate safely in complex traffic environments and at higher speeds," said Henrik Green, Volvo's head of research and development. "Our collaboration allows us to learn more about its promising technologies and takes us one step further to the highly autonomous cars of the future."

The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched earlier this year and aims to invest in high potential technology start-ups world-wide. It focuses on strategic technology trends that are transforming the industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous driving and digital mobility services.  

"Luminar represents exactly the type of company and technology we seek to invest in, providing us with strategic access to new technologies, capabilities and talent," said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Tech Fund.

"Supporting promising young firms that are at the forefront of technological development will help us introduce cutting-edge technology that strengthens our leading role in the industry."

Companies will benefit in a number of ways from participation by the Tech Fund. Apart from the association with a leading premium carmaker, start-ups may gain the ability to validate their technologies and accelerate the pace of achieving product market fit.

They may also have the opportunity to benefit from the China-owned automaker's unique access to the Chinese car market, its and the world's largest, as well as potential access to a global network of automotive and technology partners.

"Volvo is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, and their safety-centric approach to autonomy is directly aligned with our sensing capabilities," said Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell. "ur LiDAR is the first to deliver the necessary performance to enable safe and reliable long-range perception which is required to unlock their goals of autonomy at highway speeds."

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