… Dr.-Ing. Gunther Vollrath CEO / Vorstandsvorsitzender Aifotec AG
1. Aifotec is a development and production service provider. What do you have to think of and in which areas are the development priorities?
In the electronics industry, the EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Service) business model is a typical business model. Electronic chips are designed in design houses, manufactured in external factories and the final assembly is also carried out externally (mostly in China). A typical example of this business model is Apple.
In photonics, this business model is still relatively new, as photonic technology is about 30 years behind electronic technology. So far, there are some players on the market (mostly in Thailand), but the business model is still relatively young. Aifotec AG combines the model of the PMS (Photonic Manufacturing Service) with PDS (Photonic Development Service) and thus stands out from its competitors.
2. Aifotec develops and produces, among other things, the lidar system for autonomous driving in small series. What is special about lidar and why will the system become a key component for autonomous driving?
Compared to camera-based systems or radar or ultrasound, a laser-based system has the advantage of a three-dimensional display, high range and high resolution. Even if various components will be used or are already in use for future autonomous driving (e.g. ultrasound for near-field sensors or cameras, used for parking aids) as well as radar systems for automatic distance control, lidar is certainly a core component for autonomous driving.
3. Photonic technology has great potential in medical technology, for example, and promises a better quality of life for diabetics. What is behind this and when can the market launch be expected?
The entire range of photonic technology is still in its infancy and new areas of application are only just beginning to open up. While optical data transmission (“fiberoptics”) is established and is used, for example, for remote transmission as well as within data centers (“cloud computing”, “big data”, Industry 4.0), completely new areas of application such as the autonomous driving or applications in medical technology described above. An example of this is the optical measurement of blood sugar levels. A small chip is implanted under the skin, which transmits the blood sugar level to a smartphone via radio. A significant improvement in the quality of life for diabetics. A market launch in the field of medical technology is difficult to predict due to the required approval procedures.