Auto tech company Luminar Technologies (LAZR 0.66%) is looking to the sky, announcing on Monday a partnership with Airbus (EADSY -7.19%) to develop technologies to increase aviation safety and perhaps lay the foundation for autonomous flying.
Luminar specializes in the development of tools using lidar (for light detection and ranging). Lidar is used by autonomous vehicles and in other applications to measure distance.
Airbus, via a unit created by the world's largest airplane manufacturer to explore new tech, will collaborate with Luminar to explore sensing, perception, and system-level capabilities toward an eventual goal of autonomous flight.
"We're able to directly reapply what we've accomplished for the automotive industry into aviation, an established nearly $1 trillion industry," Luminar CEO Austin Russell said in a statement. "We believe that automation and safety enhancements will transform how we move across all modes of transport as we take our technology from roads to the skies."
While it is hard to imagine passengers climbing aboard a pilotless plane anytime soon, the research could help to find ways to make all aircraft safer and improve obstacle detection both on the ground and in the air. Though technology has led to dramatic increases in aviation safety in recent years, there is still a lot of room for improvement both in commercial flying and, more significantly, in helicopter and general aviation safety.