Tesla has bought greater than $2 million price of lidar sensors from Luminar this 12 months.

Elon Musk would not like lidar, the laser sensor that powers many firms’ self-driving automotive ambitions. Beforehand he known as it a “crutch” and stated that any firm that depends on lidar for its autonomous capabilities was “doomed”.

Properly, apparently Tesla is stocking up on crutches.

In its quarterly earnings report launched at the momentOrlando-based lidar maker Luminar stated Tesla was its “largest LiDAR buyer within the first quarter,” accounting for greater than 10 % of the corporate’s income for the quarter. This equates to a lidar worth of roughly $2.1 million, primarily based on Luminar’s $21 million in income for the quarter.

Tesla is stocking up on crutches

It is a outstanding turnaround for Tesla, which for years has been identified to chop again on the variety of sensors it makes use of to manage its superior driver-assistance options like Autopilot and full self-driving – options that Musk has persistently offered as a precursor to a completely autonomous automotive. automotive park. Tesla is predicted to unveil later this 12 months robotaxi prototype on which Musk is betting on the way forward for his firm.

Musk’s allergy to lidar was even on show throughout Tesla’s quarterly earnings name, during which he boasted that its automobiles rely solely on camera-based imaginative and prescient techniques to offer driver-assistance options.

“It’s clear that our answer, with a comparatively low cost inference pc and off-the-shelf cameras, can allow autonomous driving,” Musk stated. “No lidars, no radars, no ultrasound. Nothing.”

It is a nice turnaround for Tesla.

What Tesla is doing with the $2.1 million Luminar lidar is anybody’s guess. Luminar spokesman Milin Mehta declined to remark, and Tesla has not formally responded to any requests from reporters since 2019.

After I requested Luminar founder and CEO Austin Russell in 2021 He declined to remark particularly on the take care of Tesla, citing “shopper confidentiality.” He famous that Luminar sells its older Hydra lidars to some clients concerned in “testing, growth… information assortment, [and] benchmarking”.

Even when Tesla makes use of Luminar lidar to check its full self-driving characteristic in preparation for its robotaxi launch, it is nonetheless numerous lidar Particular person lidar sensors price about $1,000, together with software program, in accordance with Luminar. Has Tesla bought 2,100 lidars for its automobiles? Could also be! The corporate quietly operates an autonomous testing fleet in quite a few cities, together with San Francisco and Las Vegas. Is the corporate going to equip company-owned automobiles with Luminar lidar? If that occurs, folks will discover, similar to they seen the Mannequin Y in Florida just a few years in the past. We’ll know quickly sufficient if these automobiles are able to hit the street.

What appears clear is that Tesla is altering its stance on lidar, though Musk stays publicly against lidar. In the end, the CEO himself might need to swallow his pleasure and admit that lasers it is actually sauce.

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