Lucid to Use Lidar in Its DreamDrive Advanced Driver Assistance System

The Arizona-based EV startup says the system will use 32 sensors and driver monitoring for safe operation

Lucid Air Dream Drive Photo: Lucid Motors

Lucid Motors, a new luxury electric vehicle manufacturer poised to launch its first model, announced further details today about DreamDrive, its advanced driver assistance system. The company said in a YouTube presentation that DreamDrive will use an array of up to 32 sensors—including short- and long-range radar, cameras, ultrasonic, and what it says is the first use of LIDAR in North America on a production car—to provide active driving assistance, such as lane centering and adaptive cruise control.

DreamDrive also will include driver monitoring, with the system alerting the driver whose eyes wander from the road ahead. (Lucid has not yet shared details about how the driver monitoring system will work.)

Tying all these parts together will be what Lucid calls an “ethernet ring,” which will provide lightning-fast, redundant communication links between the vehicle’s sensors and its steering, braking, and other systems.

Calling its system “future proof,” Lucid promised that the vehicle is fully equipped physically for future autonomous driving updates, which would be delivered via over-the-air updates at some unspecified future date.

Lucid Air Dream Drive
DreamDrive, Lucid's driver assistance system, uses up to 32 sensors.

Photo: Lucid Motors Photo: Lucid Motors

More on Driver Assistance Systems

DreamDrive, which uses its sensors to give the system a 360-degree view around the car, also will be able to auto-park the car. A large 34-inch display screen and a 21-speaker sound system will provide visual information and verbal cues to the driver. One of the system’s critical components is LIDAR, which greatly improves its ability to scope out the world around it, says Jake Fisher, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center.

"LIDAR gives the car much more detail about the things around it than a conventional optical camera does," he says. "For one thing, it’s better able to see in the dark."

What is LIDAR? The acronym stands for Light Detection and Ranging. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses LIDAR to gather details about the Earth’s surface, it uses laser pulses and GPS data to measure distances. "A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver," says the agency on its website.

Automakers in the upper echelons of the market have been playing a game of one-upmanship regarding driver assistance technologies, each choosing a different approach. Lucid’s use of LIDAR is just the latest example of a breakthrough. Last week, Cadillac announced that it will be offering Ultra Cruise—an expanded version of its Super Cruise driver assistance system that it says will allow hands-free driving on about 2 million miles of roads in the US and Canada—in Escalade SUVs.

Much like Tesla, its most direct competitor, Lucid has adopted a top-down approach to marketing its products, starting with its first offering, an already sold-out $169,000 luxury sedan called the Lucid Air Dream Edition R. Lower-priced versions will roll out down the road with the Lucid Pure at $77,400 being the base model. Lucid says its cars—the first of which are scheduled to go into production this fall—have all the hardware they need for “hands-free, eyes-free driving,” which can be activated at an unspecified date through software updates.

In contrast, Tesla’s latest models use cameras, rather than radar, for its ADAS suite, known as Full Self Driving and Autopilot.

“This is an important development as the industry works its way toward true vehicle autonomy,” says CR’s Fisher. “Lucid’s technology brings important redundancies and critical driver monitoring into the mix, and we hope other manufacturers will follow suit.”

Lucid Air Dream Drive
The steering and braking systems communicate with sensors through the lightning-fast "ethernet ring."

Photo: Lucid Motors Photo: Lucid Motors

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Benjamin Preston

My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.