The latest drop in Lucid’s drip-drip prelude to its September 9th reveal of the slippery looking Air, its first model, is its driver assistance sensor suite. The moniker they’ve chosen for the comprehensive setup -which includes a monstrous 32-sensor count!—is “DreamDrive,” and it’s akin to Cadillac’s Super Cruise in that it promises a lot (Super! Dream!) while astutely steering clear of the suggestion of autonomy that apparently has caused some of Tesla’s Autopilot users to recklessly play smartphone games or take 70-mph naps.
But it’s that 32-sensor suite that’ll make DreamDrive either a fantasy or a nightmare, and the sheer number of sensors, at least, is certainly promising. There are 14 cameras: Three forward-facing, four side- and rear-facing, four surround-view, a rear-facing, a rear-facing fisheye, and lastly, a driving monitoring one. There are five radar units. One is a forward-facing long-range sensor, and the other four are short-range ones. Twelve short-range ultrasonic sensors handle near-field detection, and lastly, a high-resolution, long-range, 125-beam (equivalent), forward-facing Lidar maps the three-dimensional space ahead of the car. Mic drop.
This will be only the second appearance of Lidar in a production vehicle, after the Audi A8’s Traffic Jam Pilot (which does not yet achieve its SAE Level 3 autonomy potential due to regulatory tangles) and the first to combine it with the sort of hands-free, video-driver-monitoring that’s made Super Cruise the toast of driving while you’re eating toast. Lucid describes DreamDrive as SAE Level 2-capable, with 19 assist features at launch (8 more come later) and Level 3-ready via future over-the-air updates. Underpinning it is an unusual high-speed Ethernet Ring communication, which offers redundancies for the Air’s steering and brakes.
Partnering with Continental, Bosch, and Here, and integrated by Lucid under the direction of Dr. Eugene Lee, Senior Director of ADAS and Autonomous Driving, DreamDrive will be standard on every early version of the Air. And it’s going to make for an interesting Battle Bot contest with Super Cruise and Autopilot’s saga-like roll-out of the Full Self Driving feature, which famously shuns Lidar but bets big on camera vision and AI judgement that’s being harvested from the Tesla fleet.