Meet Austin Russell, the 23-Year-Old Aiming to Lead the Self-Driving Vehicle Industry

This year has seen considerable developments within the self-driving vehicle industry, with top competitors including Alphabet’s Waymo, Uber, Tesla, and major car manufacturers. But Austin Russell, a 23-year-old Stanford University dropout, is seeking to lead the industry with new autonomous technology created by his company, Luminar.

Luminar, which was started by Russell when he was 17 years old, creates lidar (“light detection and ranging”) sensors for self-driving vehicles. Lidar uses lasers to measure distance from objects while simultaneously creating 3D maps of the nearby environment in real time. Although other companies, such as Velodyne, Quanergy, and Innoviz also offer lidar sensors, Luminar differs in that it builds all of its components, creating a product that scans at “50 times better resolution and have a tenfold range” compared to competitors.

Luminar has achieved considerable success within the industry. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the company has raised more than $36 million in funding and has over 400 employees.

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