It was Da Vinci’s belief that nature is the greatest source of inspiration for innovation. Ever since then, mankind’s greatest inventions have reflected the same belief. Keeping faith on the same, Toposens came up with the idea of ultrasonic echolocation enabled sensor technology.
Founded in 2015, Toposens has successfully developed a sensor system that can detect objects and people purely with the help of ultrasonic echolocation. By integrating the 3D ultrasound sensor into a vehicle, the startup from Germany aims to give bat vision to autonomously moving cars and robots. The sensor realizes near-field vision for various applications, such as autonomous parking, ADAS, collision avoidance or in-car monitoring.
Enhancing the Technology
The innovative sensor technology developed by Toposens, blends in perfectly with existing sensor stacks, covering edge cases, which otherwise would be difficult to cover. The sensor combines the unique characteristics of ultrasound, therefore being resistant to external influences, such as lighting conditions, reflections or even dirt and rain. The sensor module itself is small, simple and inexpensive.
Multiple functions can be enabled with the same sensor system, making it attractive for Toposens’ customers to work with. This combination of characteristics provides an unprecedented way of perceiving the environment – another piece of the puzzle towards autonomous driving.
A Trio of Visionaries
Alexander Rudoy, Rinaldo Persichini and Tobias Bahnemann are the Co-Founders of Toposens. While Alexander and Tobias share the position of Managing Directors, Rinaldo has been appointed as the Head of Development in the company.
The trio started up with nothing but an idea and the basic algorithm for a completely novel sensor technology. Having no industry connections and financial support, it took a while for them to get a foot in the door in the automotive industry. According to the Co-founders, Toposens had adversities in its way through the initial years of its existence. This perseverance however, paid off in the end, as it could finally convince automotive companies of its technology’s advantages.
Setting up a sustainable company in this industry with the given barriers was a big accomplishment and it has been achieved by hard work and a strong belief in the technology. The three founders took every opportunity to learn more about the industry, get to know its peculiarities and its participants, incorporating the feedback in the product development along the way. Today, they are experts in the field of automotive sensor technology.
Gaining credibility as a startup in the automotive industry is hard work and such was the case with Toposens. The company believes that even though a lot of people seem to be interested in the technology at a very early stage, not a lot of enterprises take the initiative to take the first step forward. Despite the extreme pressure for innovation in the automotive industry, a lot of companies in this sector are still relatively conservative and have a hard time trusting startups in the market.
Long development and sales cycles in the industry make it even harder for independent startups to survive in this market. It takes a relationship of mutual trust for the corporate and the startup to work together at eye level. However, if the cooperation is successful in the end – the struggle pays off for both sides. The corporate boosts its innovation power and the startup wins a loyal customer.
Raising Industry Standards
Toposens has contributed to the whole ecosystem of both the autonomous driving and the sensor industries by developing its pioneer sensor technology. Using ultrasound as its underlying technology, the sensor is perfectly suited to complement existing sensor technologies and enable new applications, which have lacked a reasonable sensing technology up till today.
According to the company, customers benefit from a broader range of options, but also from the redundancy, which subsequently increases reliability of the whole sensor stack. Edge cases, which might be difficult to detect for certain sensor technologies, are easy to identify for ultrasound and vice versa.
Consistent Innovation is Key
Sensors technology is very significant for automation industries, especially vehicles, robots and electronic devices. Therefore, its importance will increase dramatically in the future, as interaction between humans and technology increases. Due to this importance of sensor technologies, competition has grown fiercely. Even though Toposens offers a unique technology, it is possible that current complexities can also be resolved by different technologies before ultrasound.
To stand out from competition, Toposens therefore has to constantly work on its technology, evolve into new markets and, finally, broaden its product range from ultrasound to neighboring technologies. Today, an important difference to established sensor developers is Toposens’ agility and flexibility which comes with its small size. Maintaining this agility will be a crucial competitive advantage in the future.
Currently, Toposens is working together with automotive manufacturers and suppliers on various use-cases including collision avoidance and autonomous parking. In the long run, Toposens wants to provide near-field vision to all autonomous vehicles and robots, making interaction between humans and machines easier and more reliable.