Christian Kimmle is the Managing Director of Innovusion Europe. He joined Innovusion in September 2022. In this role he is responsible for the business development of Innovusion Europe to strengthen the market position in the areas of Intelligent Transportation Systems, Smart City and Automotive Solutions.
Christian has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry with highly complex devices that require explanation and software-based services. Prior to Innovusion he held several positions at Gracenote, a Nielsen Company, Novero-Group, NTT Data and Cobra Automotive Technologies, including Global Vice President of Automotive, Director Strategic Sales, Director of Telematics Services and Senior Consultant Telematics & Future Mobility.
In connection with Tech.AD Europe 2023, we spoke with Managing Director of Innovusion Inc. Christian Kimmle about Lidar and what role does sensor vehicle integration play of our road safety and other projects in his upcoming presentation in Tech.AD this year.
Can you tell us about your background and experience in the automotive industry and how it led you to your current role as Managing Director at Innovusion Inc.?
Christian Kimmle: This year is the 25th anniversary of my experience in the automotive industry and I look back on many successful projects with complex electronic components that require explanation as well as new technologies for vehicles.
I started my automotive career in 1998 with retrofit in-car-entertainment products at the Pioneer company. At this time, we introduced the first Pioneer navigation system. In 2002 I moved to Cobra Automotive Technologies and there I came into my first automotive line-fit projects for alarm systems, parking aid, and later telematics control units for stolen vehicle tracking and emergency call applications. My next position was at Novero, the legal successor of Nokia Automotive. I worked as director of strategic sales. The product portfolio included telematics control units, the traditional handsfree-kits, and later another new technology for vehicles: Wireless charging. In 2015 I switched from hardware to software and was occupied by Gracenote as Vice President of Automotive in Europe – the product portfolio included meta data and software for music recognition, which is available in more than 200 million vehicles today. 2022 was another important step in my career, my start at Innovusion, where I have the unique opportunity to work on another big change in the industry: LiDAR Systems for assisted and autonomous driving paired with many other applications outside the automotive sector: infrastructure.
What are some of the key challenges that companies face when integrating lidar technology into vehicles for improved road safety?
Christian Kimmle: Lidar is relatively new to the industry; there are many different technologies with different performances and formfactors. So, the first challenge is to select the right product for the intended use case. It is a difference to support collision warning Systems or assisted/autonomous driving. The next difficult exercise is the integration into a vehicle while maintaining the planned design. No doubt, the optimal position for a LiDAR is the roof as the highest section of a car to achieve the best (long) range. For autonomous driving from level 4, you need to have 360 Degrees, which means you need to integrate more than 1 sensor around the vehicle. We at Innovusion are permanently improving our products regarding the formfactor, performance, and field of view.
Can you explain why you believe lidar is superior to other systems and how it can contribute to accident prevention?
Christian Kimmle: LiDAR is a highly reliable and robust technology that grants long range view up to 500 m in all weather conditions. While a camera might have issues detecting obstacles in a backlight situation, the LiDAR will detect it, the same situation in heavy fog or rain. Especially the 1550 nm laser delivers excellent results.
What are some of the most important factors to consider when integrating lidar technology into vehicles, such as cost, reliability, and scalability?
Christian Kimmle: Cost is one of the most important factors since LiDAR has been adopted from high-end vehicles to middle-range vehicles. A lower price point will drive up scalability and further lower the cost of supply chain.
Reliability is also very important. Our LiDAR went through a thorough automotive-grade testing process with highest standards. Our products achieve IATF 16949 and ISO 26262 ASIL-D process certification.
How can lidar technology be used to improve safety not just for self-driving cars, but also for human-driven vehicles on the road?
Christian Kimmle: AEB is a very common function for human-driven vehicles. However, the currently camera-based AEB has a high false alarm rate, thus providing a poor customer experience. LiDAR-based AEB can detect small obstacles hundreds of meters away with cm-level accuracy. We can provide a much better experience with better safety and comfort.
How does Innovusion Inc. ensure that its lidar technology is not only precise and reliable but also cost-effective for companies looking to integrate it into their vehicles?
Christian Kimmle: Cost-down is essential in our product technology architecture evolution. Also, as we are driving the volume of our product, the cost from the supply chain will get lower. We are on track to provide LiDAR products in hundreds of dollars range in the next 3-5 years.
Can you explain how Innovusion’s lidar technology differs from other lidar solutions on the market, and what unique advantages it offers?
Christian Kimmle: Our Falcon product can sense and detect at long range (500m), the longest range on the market, which means it can give you more runway for the vehicle or human to respond at higher speeds. This leads to more confidence on the road and an easier time taking over the wheel when they need to get off the highway.
In your view, what are some of the most promising areas of research and development within the field of autonomous driving and ADAS?
Christian Kimmle: The most important part is to achieve the optimized balance for safety, comfortableness, and efficiency for AD or ADAS. LiDAR will play an important role in achieving that goal.
Looking ahead, what do you see as the future of lidar technology in the automotive industry, and how do you see Innovusion Inc. playing a role in this development?
Christian Kimmle: LiDAR will become a standardized sensor for all vehicles in the near future, just as the camera is ubiquitous as car sensors as of today. Innovusion will be the leading player to develop and supply the best-performance LiDAR with the highest quality.
How does participating in events like Tech.AD Europe help Innovusion Inc. stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the industry?
Christian Kimmle: Tech.AD Europe gives us a platform to promote our brand and product value in the industry. We want to continue to educate and network with like-minded individuals so that LiDAR technology can advance and be widely adopted.
Finally, what message would you like to leave with attendees of Tech.AD Europe who are interested in learning more about lidar technology and its role in improving road safety?
Christian Kimmle: We have a lot of work to do still to improve and ensure that we have more secure roads and modes of transportation for ourselves, loved ones, and the public at large. We hope we can move the needle forward one event and one conversation at a time. A safer tomorrow starts today!