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Luminar Technologies founder Austin Russell, 25, at a Volvo Cars factory. Photo: Luminar

Luminar Technologies, which makes laser sensors for self-driving cars, started trading as a public company on Thursday, turning its 25-year-old founder Austin Russell into an instant billionaire.

Why it matters: Luminar is emerging as one of the leading suppliers of lidar technology, which uses laser beams to give vehicles a three-dimensional view of the road.

  • Volvo is using Luminar's lidar sensors on its first hands-free models coming in 2022, and Luminar has partnerships with Daimler Trucks and Intel's Mobileye unit.

What to watch: Luminar has proven its technology works, and Russell says multiple automakers are developing software to work with its sensors ahead of potential deployment.

  • The challenge is whether Luminar can produce the complex laser devices at a mass scale.
  • Russell tells Axios the company has perfected the manufacturing process and is close to announcing a deal with a contract manufacturer in Mexico.

Fun fact: Luminar's apt ticker symbol is "LAZR."

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - World

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

The latest: Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters later on Saturday, "I decided to fight back as long as I can."

1 hour ago - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," Axios co-founder Mike Allen interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, February 28 at 6 pm. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
2 hours ago - World

Italy tightens COVID restrictions as experts warn of growing prevalence of variants

Health workers prepare vaccine doses in Iseo, Italy. Photo: Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.