June 9, 2022
All-electric Swedish automaker Polestar has revealed the first undisguised picture and more details of its upcoming performance SUV, the Polestar 3.
And the brand has teased more information about what to expect, confirming that the new model will, “over time, offer autonomous highway piloting” and that it will potentially have a range of more than 372 miles, courtesy of a large battery and dual-motor powertrain.
The self-driving element of the Polestar 3 is particularly interesting. In a press release accompanying the new image, the company said the autonomous functionality would be “powered by the best-in-class LiDAR sensor from Luminar and centralized Nvidia computing power.” This backed up a previous statement from the brand, which said “advanced technologies… will provide cutting-edge unsupervised autonomous driving functionality.”
The use of the word “unsupervised” is key here; that suggests Polestar will deliver a Level 3 system, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. That essentially means drivers would be able to take their eyes off the road and are not required to pay attention to traffic unless the system alerts them that they should take control.
This is a clear point of difference between a Level 2 system such as Tesla’s Autopilot – currently attracting the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over complaints of phantom braking from owners – which necessitates the driver to monitor the road, keep their hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to take control at all times.
Mercedes became the world’s first carmaker to receive internationally valid certification for conditional automated driving last December and its Level 3 Drive Pilot system is now available to specify on the S-Class and EQS in Germany, with plans to roll it out in Nevada and California by the end of the year.
Any plans Polestar has for Level 3 tech will also be subject to regulatory approval.
Polestar is part owned by Chinese giant Geely – which this week launched nine satellites into space as its builds a network to help guide its brands’ autonomous cars – and Volvo, at whose factory in Charleston, South Carolina the new SUV will be built.
In addition, the Polestar 3 will share its SPA2 platform with the next-generation XC90, a car due later this year that Volvo has already said will feature “unsupervised” self-driving Ride Pilot tech.
We can expect more details on the Polestar 3 to be released in the run-up to the October unveil, but for the time being CEO Thomas Ingelath summed up its significance by saying: “This is a major milestone for our company, one that boosts our growth trajectory and takes us into our next phase.”
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