Toposens was the first company to develop a 3D sensor that uses ultrasound to locate objects in three-dimensional space. This helps to avoid collisions and supports the interaction between man and machine.
This is particularly exciting for industrial purposes, especially in the automotive and robotics sectors. Toposens is one of the three final winners in the Munich Business Plan Competition 2016 and successfully closed a financing round in May this year. CEO Tobias Bahnemann explains what has happened at the company since its participation in the Munich Business Plan Competition 2016.
Toposens was founded in 2015, in 2016 you have successfully participated in the Munich Business Plan Competition. What has happened since then?
First we focused on the development of the basic technology and then we started projects in the automotive and robotics sectors through initial customer contacts. At the same time, we have developed our sensor technology to such an extent that in 2019 we were able to sell the first sensors for evaluation purposes via our own online store to over 100 customers worldwide. In the meantime, our customers include BMW, Continental and Daimler.
How far have you progressed with the technological development of the solution?
In addition to calculating the distance to an object, similar to a conventional ultrasonic sensor, the technology can also be used to calculate the horizontal and vertical position of several objects relative to the sensor itself. These objects are then located in three-dimensional space - similar to the principle used by the bat to detect its surroundings. We will not stop here, we will continue working on the development. At the end of last year, we developed a new positioning system based on our 3D ultrasound technology. The system enables us to detect near-field positions in three-dimensional space with millimeter accuracy, and there is still a lot of room for improvement here.
3D Sensor and Tracking System
Robotic navigation: the 3D sensor on a robot
What are the advantages of your solution over existing sensors?
One advantage over existing sensors is that our sensor technology is resistant to light influences and can detect both reflective and transparent surfaces. Likewise, we have no problems to determine the environment in case of environmental influences, such as fog, for example. In addition, our sensor technology is much more cost-effective, since we use ultrasound technology, which has proven itself on the market for years.
Are partnerships with established companies an issue for you - or do you see industry as sales market primarily?
We are looking for partners on several levels and have already put out our feelers. We are in discussion with companies in the industry that already have experience with ultrasonic sensor technology in the industrial environment. In general, when cooperating with industrial companies, it is interesting for us to combine the know-how of both parties and thus to further advance the topic of autonomous technologies and to make industrial solutions more efficient. This can be done either by jointly developing an improved sensor solution or by bringing together the respective experiences from technology and market access. We are already cooperating with companies such as Infineon and Murata, for example, to procure the components for our sensor systems and to manage joint marketing activities.
You concluded an international financing round in May. What does this mean for your further development?
That's right, among others, US investors are now also invested with us. In principle, this is a decisive step in accessing the local market. However, we are still focusing on Europe, as the automotive and robotics industries are also strong in this region.