Start-up Check! With sight, autonomous cars learn to see

In the “Start-up-Check!” Series, we regularly examine the business models of start-ups. Who is behind the company? What makes the start-up so special and what is there to criticize? Today: field of vision.

Start-ups. That sounds like inventiveness, future technologies, new markets. But in reality, many of the start-ups unfortunately often turn out to be a mixture of an e-commerce idea, hopeless founders, and shaky future prospects. 

But they certainly do exist: the thought leaders, who work on the big problems and revolutionize business models. Finding and introducing them is the task of the Start-up-Check format. Today: field of view from Munich.

Who is behind the field of vision?

Blickfeld GmbH was founded in 2017 in Munich. Mathias Mller, Rolf Wojtech and Florian Petit know each other from their studies. Even then, the three graduates of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have already worked together on several projects.

On the website, the founders present themselves in the style of a start-up:

  • Mathias, electrical engineer and physicist, heads the company as CEO and is responsible for engineering.
  • Software developer Rolf is responsible for programming and IT.
  • Florian, a roboticist, is responsible for product and business development.

The still young company is growing rapidly and is now over 60 strong. Monthly, there are more. This can be tracked on the Instagram account. There, the startup presents the “new arrivals” every month.

The fact that investors also believe in Blickfeld’s success shows that they supported the start-up with $ 10 million in seed funding early in the early start-up phase.

Amongst others, Fluxunit (Osram Ventures), Tengelmann Ventures and the High-Tech Grnderfonds (HTGF) provided fresh capital for the start of the financial year. And with entrepreneur TUM Venture Capital, the alma mater of the three founders is also involved.

What does Blickfeld do?

Combining subject areas, location and adding that Munich is regarded as one of the centers for autonomous driving, the industry quickly emerges, in which the three founders of the company are moving: Automotive – in particular autonomous driving.

Behind the simple product name “Blickfeld Cube” – Blickfeld’s first finished product – hides an innovative technology intended to make the development of self-driving vehicles suitable for mass production.

With their LIDAR solution (Light Detection And Ranging) – an environment detection system for optical distance and speed measurement – the Munich autonomous machines give, so to speak, “eyes”.

Their goal is to provide a reliable and secure spatial recognition of the environment – and so good and cheap that it can be installed in series production.

What makes Blickfeld so special?

When detected by radar radio waves sense the environment. In contrast, LIDAR sensors work with light waves. This guarantees a higher precision.

In doing so, laser beams that are not visible to humans are emitted and detected by a mirror rotating rapidly. This creates a 360-degree image. However, previous LIDAR solutions are still mechanically very complex. In addition, the devices are thus very large, heavy, expensive and prone to failure.

Blickfeld has tackled this problem and has revolutionized a core element of the LIDAR with the new, patented solid state technology. Attention, it will be a bit technical now.

The field of view cubes beam deflection unit is based on a proprietary silicon MEMS mirror technology. That’s why it does not require elaborate mechanics. The sensors of the field of view scan the environment.

Coupled with innovations in optics and signal processing, they deliver accurate real-time information. As a result, the technology captures spatial values such as distance and size and recognizes objects.

Due to the microelectronic system – the mirrors, which are similar to chips made of silicon – the 80 x 60 x 50 millimeter field of view Cubes can be produced in large quantities.

Accordingly, they are much cheaper. In addition, since there are no moving parts, they are also less vulnerable.

In simple terms: The field of view cubes promise highest performance with small dimensions and low costs. So the key technology for autonomous driving becomes ready for the mass market.

In test and validation projects, automotive suppliers are currently examining Cubes’ vision of whether they are suitable for use in production vehicles. Sales start is still 2019. Therefore, the crew from Munich is working under pressure to produce the first freely available LIDAR sensors.

Are there any criticisms?

Here was really thought of many things, criticism is therefore difficult. The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research has just analyzed the effects of autonomous vehicles on carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 by means of a potential analysis.

In combination with intelligent transport systems, the experts expect to see significant savings in carbon dioxide emissions according to the underlying scenarios.

Reason enough to look forward to the former science fiction technology of self-driving cars. If the thanks to production-ready “eyesight” faster reality, there are no objections from my side.

Conclusion

The founders of Blickfeld have already won several prizes with their technology. These include the German Innovation Prize, the European Startup Prize (EUSP), the Emove Award 2018 and many more.

Industry experts awarded them at the Autonomous Traffic and Logistics Innovation Forum and on the Hypermotion – I like to join this promising assessment.

Also interesting:

  • Start-up Check! Plastic-free packed into an ecological future with Superseven
  • Start-up Check! With Share you donate while shopping and do good at the same time
  • Start-up Check! Spoontable puts an end to plastic waste when eating ice cream
  • Start-up Check! Solmove transforms our roads into solar power plants

Your job market in the digital world

We do what we love every day. You can do that too! Over 20,000 dream jobs in the IT and digital world are just waiting for you in the BASIC thinking job market. Just take a look and discover!