Next generation pulse time-of-flight sensors for autonomous driving with ESPROS

Beat DeCoiBeat De Coi, CEO & President at Espros Photonics joins the line-up in Brussels at AutoSens to discuss Next generation pulse time-of-flight sensors for autonomous driving. We wanted to find out a bit more about him and his session, so asked him to take time out to answer our questions below.

ESPROS is your company, built up from nothing in only ten years – why did you decide to buck the trend in semiconductors to have your own foundry? 

Simply there was or is no silicon CMOS technology available which offered high Quantum Efficiency in NIR in combination with high performance CCD. Our backside illumination technology OHC15L offers what is needed for powerful LiDAR, TOF and in general ultrafast gated imagers.

Should public service robots have a sense of humor? 

They should certainly be nice to people! Humor might be a next generation AI feature, as it would need to be my very personal kind of humor rather than offending me.

Who should come to your session and why?

ADAS system architects, ADAS sensor designer and ADAS product managers, since the ESPROS CMOS/CCD technology allows cost efficient full distance solid state LiDAR imaging

Are we going to start seeing multispectral imaging inside or outside the car? 

The image fusion of an RGB camera with an NIR LiDAR system can be seen as multispectral imaging already. In the future, additional spectral bands might come in addition for certain applications. Accordingly we assume that multispectral imaging will be an interior and exterior feature at some point.

What are you most looking forward to at AutoSens? 

I am looking forward to learn more about the implementation strategies of ADAS and to see the development state of the industry

Your session on time-of-flight sensors is about next generation technology – what’s different about it from existing ToF? 

  • Quantum Efficiency is greater than 75% @905nm
  • active ambient light suppression
  • single pulse operation vs. continuous light modulation in previous generation systems

What is the timescale of this technology coming to the market?

Early 2018

How is this different to using a combination of lidar and conventional camera for a car? 

Quantum efficiency @905nm is a multiple of conventional camera chips, conventional camera chips do not capture the needed illumination history, as it is implemented in our solution

What support and resources do you offer students or engineers interested in your technologies? 

We closely work with regional universities and helped to establish the first bachelor degree in Photonics in Switzerland. We have established an annual ESPROS Photonics award for students to work on active topics. Furthermore we support special projects with hardware, software and support. We try our best to be open and approachable.

Tell us about your unusual manufacturing facility, and are you ever tempted to store wine there? 

Well, the initial idea came from a friend of mine. He learned about the requirement of a vibration-free environment for semiconductor processing. He called me and said to me: «Beat, what you are looking for is inside a mountain! So, why not to build the fab into a mountain?» I learned then being underground with a facility like a fab has another big advantage: Cost! You do not need a building, just a hole. By excavating rock, the hole has negative cost because you can sell the rock. You also do not need walls, facades, a roof or fences around the facilities. The mountain does it all! By the way, I do not store wine in our cavern, the wine is in the cellar of my home.

Don’t miss out!

Over 350 attendees will be in Brussels from 19-21 September to hear Beat De Coi, CEO & President at Espros Photonics. Book your ticket to join them >>

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