Meet the Innovators Under 35

Austin Russell, Luminar

2017 Innovator Under 35: Better sensors for safer automated driving

Austin Russell, Founder and CEO, Luminar

Austin is an applied physicist and founder and CEO of Luminar. He founded the company in 2012 with a vision to develop a new type of lidar for the autonomous-vehicle industry. Five years, 170 people, and $36 million in funding later, the company has emerged with a new kind of system designed to make autonomous vehicles both safe and scalable. Before founding Luminar, he worked on several photonics projects, some of which involved building custom 3-D mapping sensors. Austin started independent research at the Beckman Laser Institute at age 16, after which he briefly attended Stanford in the applied physics department. He subsequently accepted a Thiel Fellowship to focus full time on Luminar.


Innovators Under 35
individuals whose superb technical work promises to shape the coming decades through the development of new technology or the creative application of existing technologies to solve problems.