Electronic Products & Technology

New chip from One Silicon Chip Photonics to assist drone navigation

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Montreal-based photonics has developed an inertial optical system that matches the accuracy of navigational sensors used in aerospace

Montreal-based integrated optics sensor company One Silicon Chip Photonics (OSCP) says it has developed an inertial optical system that matches the accuracy of navigational sensors used in the aerospace industry at a fraction of the cost. While these chips do not have any moving parts, the firm says it is more accurate than commercial-grade Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems Inertial Measurement Units (MEMS IMUs) and they enable highly accurate navigation even when GPS signals are not available.

OSCP has partnered with French multinational company Thales, which is developing autonomous rail systems and has been testing OSCP’s prototype in the field. Using sensors like OSCP’s in rail transport will increase vehicle autonomy which — along with moving block signaling — has the potential to increase rail capacity by up to 50% and cut energy consumption by 15%, according to Thales.

Source: One Silicon Chip Photonics (OSCP)

In addition to rail transport and military applications, drones and AVs are also increasingly being used in agriculture, mining, mapping and survey work, as well as in trucking, delivery and other transport industries.

OSCP has recently secured $1.2 million in seed funding from 7percent Ventures and 2050 Capitol, which will allow it accelerate its growth. This funding supplements earlier grants to OSCP totalling $4.2 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen) and from Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs (Climate, Wildlife and Parks Division of Quebec Ministry of Environment) under the Technoclimat program. Central to funding has been the potential of the technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in autonomous transport as compared with conventional technologies.

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“This $5.4M in total funding will allow us to expand our sales and development team and expedite the commercialization of our sensors,” said Kazem Zandi, OSCP’s founder & CEO.

“The road to full autonomy requires fundamental innovation in navigation, not more sensors and workarounds. OSCP delivers a blend of precision, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in an integrated photonic chip,” said Cornel Chiriac, Founding Partner of 2050 Capital. “OSCP technology paves the way for mass adoption of autonomous systems and unlocks innovation across both existing enterprises and ambitious startups that need these crucial building blocks for their own visions of autonomy.”

Current market demand for commercial drones is projected to more than double by 2030 – reaching an estimated $57 billion, while the autonomous vehicle (AV) market is projected to grow to more than $13 trillion by the same timeframe. However, one of the key challenges for drone and AV manufacturers continues to be finding more-accurate and lower-cost navigational sensors that are essential to enabling this growth.

 

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