Toposens is working on bringing its 3D ultrasound sensors down to the size of a U.S quarter within three months to ready it for more finite purposes — including for use in small autonomous vehicles, Mobility Buzz has learned.
The Munich, Germany-based company works in the automotive, consumer electronics, and people analytics sectors, and it previously worked on projects with BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Tier 1 suppliers. Toposens’ 3D ultrasound sensor works similarly to the principle of echolocation of bats, and it can be used for detecting objects, tracking people, and for gesture control.
Automakers have been meeting with Toposens because the 3D ultrasound sensor can provide a detailed view of a car’s near-field surroundings, and thus enable automated driving at slow speeds, Tobias Bahnemann, managing director and co-founder of Toposens, told Mobility Buzz.
However, Bahnemann would not offer specifics regarding which OEMs and suppliers Toposens is currently working with, or who it is in discussion with for future projects.
The available sensor is about 4 inches long and 2 inches high, but the company is working on bringing the size down, before prototyping.
There are also unique advantages, as well as limitations, for using 3D ultrasound. Toposens’ sensor works in inhospitable conditions, like darkness and cloudiness, because ultrasound is not impacted by those factors. However, sound can only travel so far; the available sensor has a range of 6 meters, but could extend to 10 meters, Bahnemann said. The range of the smaller devices will be about 3 meters.
Separately, Toposens plans to open a Series A round by summer in order to grow the team — from its current five employees — and finalize its products to bring them to market. Toposens is looking to raise between $5 million and $7 million. The company currently has $27,000 in seed funding, which it raised in January 2016, as well as a total of $180,000 in grant funding from two separate grants. The company also participated in TechFounders, a 20-week accelerator based in Munich.
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