In discussions with prospective customers, “the question is, ‘How soon can we get vehicles running autonomously,'” Araujo said. “We’re looking to enter into contracts for active systems to run in commercial operations with companies that don’t really have a lot of appetite for tinkering around with a technology that isn’t ready.”
While Robotic Research has entered into a strategic agreement with Luminar on long-range lidar, there are not yet firm plans for a production program. But Fennimore says the two companies are going to likely be “doing a lot of business together,” and says they’re exploring ways to work together on both autonomy and supporting services.
Fennimore and Araujo worked together at investment banking company Jeffries prior to their current roles, and further said there’d been a long-standing relationship between the engineering teams at Robotic Research and Luminar.
With complementary technologies and a focus on the near term — Luminar’s lidars enter series production with Volvo Cars next year — it made sense to forge a partnership that can quickly capitalize on the interest in trucking. Robotic Research’s experience in rugged environments and with a deep library of edge cases both on-road and off-road made it all the more appealing.
“From an investment perspective, Robotic Research has been doing this for 20 years, and they’ve demonstrated success in bringing autonomy to tough conditions,” Fennimore said. “They have real revenue today. Not a lot of companies can say this, and they have shown they can do this in a profitable way.”