At age 22, Austin Russell, a former BLIMC high-school independent researcher, launched Luminar Technologies, Inc. The company recently announced that it is partnering with the Toyota Research Institute to advance self-driving car technology. Russell, CEO of Luminar Technologies Inc., developed an advanced laser lidar sensor system that detects a car’s surroundings in high-definition 3D, paving the way for self-driving cars to “actually work and be safe.”
For Russell, being a pioneer meant having the patience to build a better lidar system that would not only advance the industry, but do it in a field that could save people’s lives. “We’re able to see seven seconds out instead of one second,” Russell shared with Business Insider, “That’s a really big breakthrough.”
Russell, a gifted student, memorized the periodic table by age four and transformed a Nintendo gaming headset into a cell phone by the sixth grade. He first conceptualized and designed augmented reality and wireless power transmission projects during his last two years of high school, working as an independent researcher in the Tromberg lab at the BLIMC.
“Our plan is to power every autonomous vehicle that’s produced and make them so they can truly be safe and autonomous,” Russell said of his future vision. As he stated on Bloomberg.com, “You would push yourself to the limit at least ultimately. That’s what you have to do if you want to make an impact on the world.”
Article adapted from, “Toyota is trusting a startup for a crucial part of its newest self-driving cars” by Johana Bhuiyan on Recode.com; “Meet the 22-year-old college dropout who wants to power every future self-driving car,” by Biz Carson in Business Insider and, “The 22-year-old at the center of the self-driving car craze,” by Alex Webb, Lizette Chapman and Alex Barinka on Bloomberg.com.