It’s barely just started rolling out its first product line, the Dream sedan, but Lucid will be playing in the big leagues when it comes to onboard technology, the start-up announced today, with the debut of its DreamDrive driver assistance system.
The package will use at least 32 different sensors to keep an eye on the road ahead and around the vehicle, including a mix of cameras, radar and sonar. The upgraded DreamDrive Pro, meanwhile, makes Lucid the first automaker to use LIDAR in a production vehicle. While not available at launch, Lucid says it will enable “conditional” hands-free driving through an over-the-air update at a point in the “future.”
“DreamDrive Pro has been designed to grow in capability, thanks to our ability to deliver software over-the-air and key equipment already in place in the vehicle,” said Dr. Eugene Lee, Senior Director, ADAS and Autonomous Driving, Lucid Motors. “This can benefit every facet of the DreamDrive Pro experience, from the frequency of updates to the planned rollout of the Highway Pilot system for conditional automated driving on select roadways in the coming years.”
Expansive product plans
Lucid is one of two start-ups that have launched production of battery-electric vehicles this autumn, alongside Rivian. Its first all-new vehicle is the Dream sedan, the top-line Dream Air models set to go on sale by year-end at prices starting around $160,000. The Range version will get up to 520 miles per charge, according to the EPA, with the Performance variant dropping to 481 mph – but boosting its horsepower to 1,133.
Less expensive versions of the Dream sedan will start rolling out in 2022. The automaker also has announced plans to introduce a premium SUV, with the Gravity model expected to go into production next summer. Smaller, less expensive models, along the size of the Tesla Models 3 and Y, are planned for later in the decade.
The initial Dream Air sedans will come with the complete suite of sensors, including 14 visible-light cameras, five radar units, four additional surround view camera and ultrasonic sensors. And it will become the first production vehicle with LIDAR, a 3D laser technology that can precisely map out the world in ways that conventional sensors cannot. Many autonomous driving experts believe LIDAR will be essential for true, hands-free driving.
First production use of LIDAR
Significantly, Lucid is turning to compact solid-state LIDAR sensors, rather than the large, mechanically rotating systems currently seen mounted atop autonomous prototypes like the Waymo and Cruise ride-sharing vehicles being tested in places like Phoenix and San Francisco.
The array of sensors, claims Lucid, is “are so seamlessly integrated into the exterior of the Lucid Air that most won’t notice them at all.”
DreamDrive Pro is expected to allow restricted hands-free driving, though Lucid said Highway Pilot won’t be available at launch. It will be added later using smartphone-style over-the-air updates. OTA technology will allow the carmaker to introduce new features and upgrade existing vehicle technology.
Lucid has not offered precise details about Highway Pilot but, based on conversations with senior executives earlier this year, it is expected to function similarly to Tesla’s Autopilot or General Motors’ Super Cruise. At the least, it will allow some hands-free operation on what Lucid calls “select roadways,” well-marked, limited-access highways. It is unclear if Highway Pilot will be able to operate on other roads, however.
Keeping an eye on the driver
Pro will will be offered as standard equipment on Air Dream and Grand Touring models and will be optional on other versions of the sedan.
The “base” DreamDrive system won’t have the LIDAR sensors and, apparently, won’t permit hands-free operation. But it will still offer what Lucid claims are “30 driver-assistance features, including collision avoidance, Traffic Jam assist, and Highway Assist.
Hoping to avoid the criticism that has been leveled at Tesla, Lucid will use an infrared camera system to monitor the driver when any version of DreamDrive is engaged. Tesla does not track drivers using Autopilot – though GM does with Super Cruise. If a motorist isn’t paying attention to the road, DreamDrive will sound an alert and even bring the vehicle to a halt. It could then issue a call for help and even unlock the doors to make it easier for emergency responders when they arrive at the scene.