Polestar 3’s Lidar Aims to Save Your Life Like Bullet Time Saved Neo in The Matrix     – CNET

Polestar 3’s Lidar Aims to Save Your Life Like Bullet Time Saved Neo in The Matrix – CNET

The reveal event for the Polestar 3 in Copenhagen last week was quite the spectacle, with more than 900 people in attendance (as well as two dogs), half a dozen of the new SUVs on display and a 45-minute presentation given by CEO Thomas Ingenlath and chief designer Maximilian Missoni detailing all the standout features and most impressive tidbits. The best part — aside from the dogs — was when Ingenlath compared the Polestar 3’s available lidar system to the “bullet time” effect from The Matrix film franchise, saying that lidar could save your life just like the movie slo-mo saved Neo’s.

Starting in the middle of next year, the Polestar 3 will be available to order with a package that adds lidar sensors from Luminar, which Polestar believes is the best long-range lidar on the market. Along with 16 ultrasonic sensors, eight cameras, five radar arrays and two Nvidia Drive computers, the lidar is intended to future-proof the Polestar 3 for eventual autonomous driving. As standard, the Polestar 3 is already equipped for Level 2 hands-free driving and comes with a long list of active-safety features, as you’d expect from any car within the Volvo group.

Polestar 3 bullet time presentation

More car reveals need Matrix references.


As a notebook drawing of The Matrix’s iconic bullet time sequence came on screen behind him, Ingenlath said that in order to understand what happens when the safety systems perform their magic, you must slow down time to the millisecond. “Neo’s reaction speed to escape the flying bullets of Agent Smith is what saves his life, and it’s similar in the car,” said Ingenlath. Per the presentation, the blink of an eye takes 180 milliseconds, but a typical car crash can happen in 100 milliseconds. The biggest airbag in the Polestar 3, of which there are 10, can fully inflate and then deflate in just 30 milliseconds, while the new inner side airbag takes a mere 8 milliseconds to inflate. The lasers in lidar sensors, meanwhile, can scan hundreds of meters ahead and work at the speed of light, transmitting hundreds of thousands of laser pulses per second.

Overhead view of the Polestar 3 showing a multitude of sensors and cameras

There’s a lot going on to keep you safe in the Polestar 3.


While bullet time didn’t first appear in The Matrix, it was in the Wachowski sisters’ epic trilogy where it became perfected and widely recognized. Using complex rigs consisting of dozens of cameras and state-of-the-art CGI effects, characters go into slow motion to dodge bullets and punches, all while appearing totally fluid. It’s an effect that is still frequently used today, especially in The Matrix Resurrections, the most recent sequel in the franchise.

The Polestar 3 is available to order now, with first deliveries in the US to commence by the end of 2023. It will start at $85,300 for the first model year, though we don’t yet know how much the lidar package will add. Volvo will fit the same lidar setup as standard on its upcoming electric EX90 SUV, which will be unveiled in November.


Daniel Golson

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