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LA Times | TechCrunch
Five years ago, Russell co-founded Luminar Technologies, a Silicon Valley start-up trying to steer the rapidly expanding self-driving car industry in a new direction. Luminar kept its work closely guarded until Thursday, when it revealed the first details about a product Russell is touting as a far more powerful form of lidar, a key sensing technology used in autonomous vehicles designed by Google spinoff Waymo, Uber and major automakers.
Lidar systems work by bouncing laser beams off nearby objects and measuring the reflections to build up a detailed 3-D picture of the surrounding environment. The technology is similar to radar, which uses radio waves instead of laser beams.
Russell says Luminar's version, consisting of its own patented hardware and software, will provide 50 times the resolution and 10 times the range of current lidar systems. Those improvements, he said, will enable self-driving cars to be sold on the mass market more quickly.
One of Luminar's early investors is a venture capital firm backed by Thiel and EBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar. Russell dropped out of Stanford University after just three months when he won a Thiel fellowship, which pays students $100,000 to work on promising ideas instead of pursuing a degree.
MicroVision’s PicoP technology is enabling Nathan Linder of MIT Media Lab to transform any surface into an interactive computer display. Nathan is a graduate student leading the LuminAR project, a research focused on the concept of augmented reality, and he has designed a device that combines a camera, a digital projector and a wireless node with the objective of building a computer form factor that is neither screen-centric nor keyboard-based. With LuminAR, any surface can be turned into a touch-screen interface.