Austin Russell is making headlines today for the launch of a new company called Luminar. Five years ago, when he was 17, Russell decided to forgo college and instead took investments from PayPal mafioso Peter Thiel and others to improve laser-based imaging sensors. Those sensors, otherwise known as lidar, are a key component in self-driving systems. Russell’s new tech is supposed to be able to see through rain and snow, a failing of current lidar.
And one can’t help but note his fortuitous timing: Luminar is emerging as Uber is being accused of stealing self-driving secrets from Google, both of which are set on crafting their own lidar technology. Meanwhile, others in the self-driving space will no doubt welcome new technology to add to their stack. Read our story about Luminar here.