Faster, lighter, more durable, and, at the end of the day, even cheaper: the advantages of photonic circuits are considerable, for a wide range of applications. The Netherlands plays an important role in the global development and applications of this key technology. In recent years, under the leadership of PhotonDelta, a solid foundation has been laid under the Dutch photonics ecosystem. In a seven-part series, Innovation Origins shows where we stand, where the ambitions lie, and what is already possible. Today: mobility.

Ulm, Germany, March 14, 2022 – As we enter a world of increasing automation and electrification in cars, robots, and transport infrastructure, concepts such as safety and reliability take on new meaning. Sensors play a decisive role in this, but as we need more and more of them, their impact on weight, energy consumption, and the price is increasing very rapidly. The solution lies in integrated photonics. By integrating multiple optical functionalities into a single chip, integrated photonics engineering can create the solutions needed for monitoring systems and for lidar. These photonic chips are accurate, cost-effective and so small that even their weight is no longer a factor.

Photonics is similar to electronics. However, instead of electrons, it uses photons (light) to transmit information. Photonic technology detects, generates, transports, and processes light. Current applications include solar cells, sensors, and fiber-optic networks. Photonic chips, officially called Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), integrate various photonic and often electronic functions into a microchip to make smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient devices. Because they are manufactured like traditional chips (with wafer-scale technology), mass production is also within reach - with price drop as a result.

In the automotive sector, all applications with integrated photonics revolve around advanced sensors. In this, you have 2 main groups: lidar and fiber optic sensors with FBG technology. The latter can measure force, pressure, temperature, and voltage simultaneously. A single fiber can be used to measure many different locations in a vehicle, significantly reducing weight, wiring, and the number of sensors.

Integrated photonics could therefore make cars much safer in the years to come. Systems with cameras, radar, and lidar will virtually eliminate the possibility of a collision with an object in the future. The great breakthrough of fully autonomous driving may still seem a long way off, but that does not mean that researchers in this sector are not making progress. Moreover, it's not just about autonomous driving. Sensors supported by PICs are also used, for example, in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) or for monitoring critical components of an electric car (powertrain, chassis, etc.).

PICs are thus essential to the automotive industry. At imec in the Holst Centre - in the middle of the Eindhoven High Tech Campus - Guido Dolmans is investigating the application of integrated photonics in the automotive sector. "We are looking at depth sensors. There are three types: cameras, radar, and lidar. A camera has limitations during the night, radar often gives an unclear image because of its lower resolution. Lidar, on the other hand, because it works with light, is very precise with good depth images. Ultimately, it's about sensor fusion, the combination of information from the different sensors to make the right decisions." Lidar uses a laser beam to scan the environment; the return signal provides precise information about distance and speed.

The more sensors used, the more accurate vehicles can drive autonomously. But also: the more expensive the system. Dolmans: "At the starting level, there are four sensors, three cameras, and a radar. That system costs $150. At the next level, with six cameras, four radars, and a lidar, it's already 2,000 dollars. The highest level is not yet available, also because it is very expensive: $10,000. Then you would use two or more lidars. This level only becomes affordable if we can reduce the cost of the chips. Photonics is the key here."

Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW), the newest form of lidar, has the future, says Dolmans. That's why current research at imec focuses on this. "FMCW can very quickly detect the position of one's own car in relation to another object. If that is a stationary object and you are approaching at high speed, then detection in milliseconds is very nice." To make affordable solutions based on FMCW lidar systems, the all-optical functions must be integrated into a single silicon chip. With PICs, that all becomes more accurate, more robust, and cheaper.

Key Enabling Technology

In Germany, Scantinel Photonics is engaged in FMCW. The company originated as a spinoff from Zeiss, a producer of optical technology. Andy Zott is managing director at Scantinel: "FMCW continuously emits laser beams, and coherently combines the reflected light with a local copy of the laser beam. As a result, this system has less interference, can cover longer distances of up to at least 200 meters, and is less sensitive to sunlight than existing lidar. We use a wavelength of 1550 nanometers which provides better visibility results in fog, rain, and snow. Older forms of lidar, such as Time of Flight, measure the reflex of objects, and so are easily disturbed by raindrops or snowflakes. FMCW makes a recording of the entire distance. As a result, rain is detected, but less predominantly: not as a reflection but as noise. As a result, FMCW provides the motorist with an accurate sight in all weather conditions."

Zeiss began researching lidar in 2016. In 2019, this research was transferred to Scantinel, Andy Zott explains. "The automotive sector sees FMCW as a key technology because it is important for autonomous driving. Photonics can reduce costs, so it becomes interesting for the industry. I expect autonomous driving to be possible in Europe sometime between 2026 and 2028, and I'm thinking especially of trucks. Autonomous highway pilots, supported by FMCW lidar, will be one of the first commercial use cases for photonic integrated lidar."

Huge Transition

Cost is the deciding factor in the automotive industry. If anyone knows that, it's Bram Hendrix, manager of smart mobility at RAI Association. "I sometimes get asked about the use of cameras, radar or lidar in cars: which of these three will be the winner? But it's not as simple as that: it will be a combination of all three and ultimately it's about the price. Because don't forget: around 80 million passenger cars are built worldwide every year. A mass application of any innovation will only succeed if it is not too expensive. That's why the Netherlands must continue to invest in the application of integrated photonics in the automotive sector."

The holy grail in the automotive sector is autonomous driving. The application of photonics - essential in the use of lidar - brings that goal unmistakably closer. The tantalizing question is, therefore: when will we see large numbers of cars on the road without the interference of a driver? Bram Hendrix: "That will take some time. Autonomous driving was the hype in the car industry a few years ago. But the sector is in a huge transition. Big companies are investing billions in the conversion from internal combustion engines to electric engines. If they don't do so and drastically reduce CO2 emissions, politicians will impose sky-high fines. As a result, autonomous driving is not the top priority for the auto industry for a while."

Therefore, fully autonomous driving will certainly not make its appearance on the consumer market for the next ten years, Hendrix expects. He sees more opportunities in trucks within two or three years: "The life cycle for trucks is shorter than that of passenger cars. That is why innovation in trucks goes faster. I also foresee industrial applications, such as autonomous forklift trucks, and applications in agriculture. Wherever there are closed environments, with not too many people, autonomous driving will make its appearance more quickly."

About Scantinel Photonics GmbH

Founded in 2019 and based in Ulm, Germany, Scantinel Photonics GmbH is a leading FMCW LiDAR company offering next-generation LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Scantinel is backed by ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital.

Ulm, Germany, March 10, 2022 – Scantinel Photonics, a global leading FMCW LiDAR company, demonstrates the world first full solid state parallelized FMCW 5D+ LiDAR system based on Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC).

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology has gained huge popularity in various applications such as navigation, robotics, remote sensing, and advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous mobility.

Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) LiDAR is the key enabler for long range (>300m) measurements and enables direct velocity measurement in every pixel, which is not possible for ToF (Time of Flight) systems. The 5D+ full solid-state scanning measures the three-dimensional vector, velocity, reflectivity, and Meta information and has superior robustness and scanning rate potential. Mechanical moving scanning parts shall be reduced as much as possible and finally eliminated considering its fatigue-prone nature to meet the stringent automotive grade in an optimal way.

World first full solid state parallelized FMCW 5D+ PIC

Our unique FMCW full solid state photonic chip development is truly a groundbreaking work and takes LiDAR development to the next level

Vladimir Davydenko, Co-Founder and Head of Photonics Technology Development
2D full solid state scanning

Furthermore, FMCW LiDAR based on Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) presents tremendous cost reduction potentials. Scantinel Photonics CMOS (Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) compatible technologies allow highly scalable manufacturing ability to significantly reduce the unit cost.

"The first LiDAR demonstrator based on 5D+ full solid state will be available by mid of this year” added Dr. Michael Richter – Managing Director of Scantinel Photonics. “The ultimate goal in the automotive sector is autonomous driving. Our FMCW LiDAR technology brings us closer to that goal.”

About Scantinel Photonics GmbH

Founded in 2019 and based in Ulm, Germany, Scantinel Photonics GmbH is a leading FMCW LiDAR company offering next-generation LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Scantinel is backed by ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital.

Scantinel Photonics discusses about FMCW LiDAR on the "Future of Mobility" Podcast Show

Ulm, Germany, March 08, 2022 – Scantinel Photonics' Managing Director Dr. Michael Richter recently sat with FEV's Brandon Bartneck to discuss the evolving FMCW LiDAR on the "Future of Mobility" Podcast Show.

Key topics in this conversation include:

Listen Here:

About Future of Mobility:

The Future of Mobility podcast is focused on the development and implementation of safe, sustainable, and equitable mobility solutions, with a spotlight on the people and technology advancing these fields.

Michael’s Bio:

Dr. Michael Richter is Scantinel’s Commercial Managing Director in charge of strategy, finance, investor relations, and sales & marketing. He has a long-lasting senior international management background in the semiconductor, sensor and high-tech industry with a successful history of formulating and implementing sustainable business plans, organizations, and techniques. Michael holds a Doctoral and Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University of Siegen in Germany.

About Scantinel Photonics GmbH

Founded in 2019 and based in Ulm, Germany, Scantinel Photonics GmbH is a leading FMCW LiDAR company offering next-generation LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Scantinel is backed by ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital.

Scantinel Photonics has been awarded the Frost & Sullivan 2021 Best Practices Technology Innovation Leadership Award

Ulm, Germany, August 30, 2021 – Scantinel Photonics, a German start-up and ZEISS Ventures spin-off that has developed a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system based on future technology photonics, has been awarded the Frost & Sullivan 2021 Best Practices Technology Innovation Leadership Award. Frost & Sullivan, the global consulting, market research, and analysis firm, continually identifies and evaluates companies and growth opportunities in various industries, technologies, and regions worldwide. Scantinel's approach using frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDAR sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance, object detection and tracking, and simultaneous localization and mapping is considered a game changer and a key component in autonomous driving. The company is regarded as a pioneer in the field of photonic integrated circuits (PIC)-based FMCW LiDAR systems.

Frost & Sullivan recognizes that with the photonic-integrated coherent FMCW LiDAR, Scantinel Photonics stands out from its peers, because it will eventually usher in a new generation of LiDAR sensing

Varun Babu, Industry Analyst, TechVision

Autonomous driving cars, robot taxis, and unmanned industrial vehicles can use LiDAR sensors to detect objects at a distance of up to 300 meters, even under difficult environmental conditions, such as fog, snow, and dust. FMCW LiDAR will facilitate the breakthrough in autonomous driving and, according to experts, will completely force the currently used Time of Flight (TOF) LiDAR systems out of the market. Scantinel has received this Frost & Sullivan award because its solution sets it apart from competitors. The German start-up is working on next-generation sensors that are technologically advanced and highly integrable. Moreover, these sensors will be produced in volume at a competitive price, which is a key industry criterion, especially in the automotive industry.

In addition to recognizing the impact that the solution will have on future technology, Frost & Sullivan commends Scantinel’s industry-proven management team and the technical competence of the developers. Frost & Sullivan analysts have rated the backing from ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital, in Series A financing, as a success factor that will contribute to a promising economic future.

"Frost & Sullivan recognizes that with the photonic-integrated coherent FMCW LiDAR, Scantinel Photonics stands out from its peers because it will eventually usher in a new generation of LiDAR sensing with enhanced competencies," says Varun Babu, Industry Analyst, TechVision.

"We are very honored by this award and appreciate the quality of Frost & Sullivan's analysis," said Dr. Michael Richter, Commercial Managing Director of Scantinel. “Photonics is one of the most innovative high-tech industries and contributes significantly to the technological development and solutions for autonomous driving. The award represents even more motivation for us, confirming that with our LiDAR System we are excelling in our part towards safe future mobility."

About Scantinel Photonics GmbH

Founded in 2019 and based in Ulm, Germany, Scantinel Photonics GmbH is a leading FMCW LiDAR company offering next-generation LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Scantinel is backed by ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital.

Scantinel Photonics launches groundbreaking solid-state scanning FMCW LiDAR silicon chip for autonomous vehicles

Ulm, Germany, February 16, 2021 – Scantinel Photonics, a global leading FMCW LiDAR Company, launches the first chip-scale Optical Enhanced Array (OEA™) LiDAR scanning system based on Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC). The PIC has 256 channels and enables full performance of long range (> 300m) detection with solid-state scanning.

The development and fabrication of the PIC was made in cooperation with Imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. A CMOS-compatible fabrication of the PIC at wafer-level significantly reduces cost, size, weight, and power consumption of a LiDAR system and can be scaled for high volume applications, like autonomous vehicles. Using standard CMOS fabs gives Scantinel the compelling advantage of building FMCW LiDAR on Chip at a highly attractive and competitive price.

"Our unique OEA™ system is combining the PIC with Scantinel’s proprietary optics, which is truly a groundbreaking development", said Vladimir Davydenko, Co-Founder and Lead Architect Ranging Systems of Scantinel. "The first FMCW LiDAR demonstrator using the PIC with the OEA™ system will be available by mid of this year" added Dr. Michael Richter – Managing Director of Scantinel Photonics.

Scantinel Photonics strengthens its advisory board with a former top manager from the automotive industry

Ulm, Germany, August 11, 2021 – Scantinel Photonics, a startup that develops and manufactures FMCW LiDAR sensors (Light Detection and Ranging) for next-generation autonomous vehicle (AV) LiDAR systems, has appointed Karl Haupt as Chairman of the Advisory Board. After receiving tremendous support from Zeiss Ventures and recently Scania Growth Capital, Scantinel has secured the commitment from Karl Haupt, a prominent leader in the automotive industry. Most recently, Mr. Haupt was Head of Driver Assistance Systems at Continental for seven years. Prior to that, he held various management positions in several business units and central functions within Continental.

Karl Haupt: The expert for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Dipl.-Ing. Karl Haupt has worked in various management roles at Continental for more than 36 years. Under his leadership, sales in driver assistance systems areas increased five times between 2013 and 2019. He is therefore recognized as a proven expert in the automotive industry. Above all, his expertise in assistance systems makes him the perfect chairman of the advisory board. With his business and engineering knowledge, he is the ideal leader to advise Scantinel. LiDAR is considered a key ADAS component, and Scantinel's sensors can be used for obstacle detection and avoidance, object detection and tracking, and simultaneous localization and mapping. Autonomous cars and trucks, robo-taxis and -buses or unmanned industrial vehicles can use LiDAR sensors to detect objects up to 300 meters away, even under challenging environmental conditions such as fog, snow, or dust. The FMCW LiDAR technology will help autonomous driving achieve a unprecedented breakthrough and, according to experts, displace the Time of Light (TOF) systems currently in use from the market.

"We are very pleased and proud that we were able to bring Karl Haupt on board," says Andy Zott, Technical Managing Director and Co-Founder of Scantinel. "This gives us a real insider in our ranks, and we will benefit from his expertise."

"The appointment of Karl Haupt shows that the automotive industry really counts on us," says Dr. Michael Richter, Commercial Managing Director of Scantinel. "With the support of ZEISS and the latest financing round from Scania Growth Capital, Karl Haupt's commitment is further proving that we are being trusted when it comes to future mass production."

I was immediately impressed by Scantinel's technology. I don't know any other company that is so advanced in the development of FMCW LiDAR systems. That's why I'm very glad to contribute my experience here.

Karl Haupt

Scantinel Photonics appoints Mikael Adelsberg, Head of Connected, Autonomous & Embedded Systems at Scania, to its advisory board

Mikael Adelsberg

At Scania, very early, we became aware that the future performance and safety of autonomous vehicles is based on FMCW LiDAR, said Mikael Adelsberg. Scantinel is one of the most exciting companies.

Mikael Adelsberg

Ulm, Germany, August 25, 2021 — Scantinel Photonics, a startup that develops and manufactures FMCW LiDAR sensors (Light Detection and Ranging) for next-generation autonomous vehicle (AV) LiDAR systems, has appointed Mikael Adelsberg to its advisory board. Adelsberg is senior vice president, Connected, Autonomous and Embedded Systems at Scania. He is an expert with significant experience in the automotive technology crucial for future mobility. Since 2003, the Swede has already held various management positions at Scania, including Head of Powertrain Control Strategy. Adelsberg holds a Master of Science in Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics.

OEM know-how for future mobility

With the appointment of Mikael Adelsberg, Scantinel has taken another important step in becoming a key player in future mobility. ZEISS Ventures has been committed to the German start-up from its inception. And in May 2021, Scania Growth Capital joined as an investor. This investment has been made because of Scantinel’s technology leadership in its field and the progress of autonomous technologies in the heavy truck industry.

The LiDAR technology that Scantinel is currently developing for the mass market will help autonomous driving achieve a breakthrough and, according to experts, displace the currently used Time of Flight (TOF) systems. An advanced solution, Scantinel’s sensors can be used for obstacle detection and avoidance, object recognition and tracking, as well as simultaneous localization and mapping. Autonomous cars, trucks, robot cabs or unmanned industrial vehicles can use LiDAR sensors to detect objects at distances of up to 300 meters, even under difficult environmental conditions such as fog, snow, or dust.

"With Mikael on board, Scantinel will benefit from proven technical expertise," said Andy Zott Technical Managing Director and Co-Founder of Scantinel. “He also knows OEM requirements and processes. This will allow us to be even more responsive to the expectations and technical needs of major global brands in the automotive industry.”

"Autonomous technology is an excellent fit for the trucking industry, as large trucking fleets can use self-driving technologies to supplement low-margin operations with higher-margin automated route capabilities," said Dr. Michael Richter, Commercial Managing Director of Scantinel. "Therefore, we are very proud to have an outstanding expert from the heavy commercial vehicle industry in our advisory board." "At Scania, very early, we became aware that the future performance and safety of autonomous vehicles is based on FMCW LiDAR sensor technology," said Mikael Adelsberg. "Scantinel is one of the most exciting companies I have seen in this space, and I am convinced the technology can gain real market advantage. It will be very interesting to not only follow the development at a close range but also be actively involved."

About Scantinel Photonics GmbH

Founded in 2019 and based in Ulm, Germany, Scantinel Photonics GmbH is a leading FMCW LiDAR company offering next-generation LiDAR technology for autonomous vehicles. Scantinel is backed by ZEISS Ventures and Scania Growth Capital. For more information, visit www.scantinel.com

About Scania Growth Capital

Scania Growth Capital is a corporate venture capital fund that invests in growth companies with strategic relevance to Scania and Scania’s ecosystem of customers and partners. The fund is managed by an external management company with a team that has extensive experience in both investments and the automobile industry. Through Scania Growth Capital, Scania reaches a segment of complementing companies, giving Scania an opportunity to tap into early development and innovation that is relevant to the industry but outside Scania’s own core operations. For more information, visit www.scaniagrowthcapital.com

Game changer for every autonomous journey.

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