ZKW chooses the Winners of the Drive Light & Sight Competition

Last year, ZKW searched for start-ups offering innovative solutions in the areas of sensors and auxiliary lamps in the “Drive Light & Sight | Edition 2020” Challenge. Now, the 74 total applications submitted from 25 countries have been reviewed by the ZKW expert jury. The young company FLITE Material Sciences has been chosen as a winner, thanks to its new surface finishing method for headlamp lenses, alongside the start-up Maradin, with a micro-laser projector for dynamic lighting systems. Each of the winners will receive 15,000 euros in prize money, along with a place in the ZKW Partnership Program. The winning concepts will now be implemented in practice alongside ZKW’s innovation experts. “Collaborating with start-ups is an important part of our innovation strategy, and is key for developing future lighting and sensor systems. This maximizes safety for all road users in the age of autonomous driving” explains Oliver Schubert, CEO of the ZKW Group GmbH.

Superhydrophobic surfaces
With its new surface finishing method, Canadian start-up FLITE has developed a technology that gives surfaces made of different materials superhydrophobic properties. The solution is inspired by the natural model of a lotus leaf, which has a microscopic, rough surface texture that repels liquids. FLITE achieves the same effect using a pulsing laser, which textures the material surfaces directly without chemical coatings. ZKW is currently researching this technology as a supplement to surface coatings used on headlamp lenses. “The innovation lets sensors see clearly while saving resources. It is also one hundred percent environmentally-neutral” says Hannes Scheer, Head of Innovation at the ZKW Group GmbH.

Communicating with laser light
Vehicle networking and communication with other vehicles and with other road users like pedestrians and cyclists is key to autonomous driving. Israeli start-up Maradin is using a micro laser projector that can be integrated at different positions on the vehicle, such as in the side mirrors. It can be used, for instance, to project warning notices on the roadway, or to display information to the user when they approach the car, such as regarding the charge status/fuel level, or even current traffic reports. The concept allows for dynamic laser light animations that can communicate information and provide increased safety at night for all road users.

Award-winning ideas
The ZKW expert jury evaluated the ideas submitted based on a variety of criteria. These focused, for instance, on added value for the customer, feasibility, market opportunities, the cost-benefit ratio, the maturity level of the technology, and strategic considerations. Now, the winners will be able to further detail their concepts through joint workshops with ZKW specialists and implement them in practice. “We love to work with bright minds, and are looking forward to new and successful partnerships with these start-ups” explains Oliver Schubert, CEO of the ZKW Group GmbH.

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