“As a developer, I must pay close attention to standards”
Autonomous driving is inconceivable without electronic systems like LiDAR and cameras. In this interview, developer Tilo Vollprecht explains how companies overcome the hurdles of qualification and certification – and why young professionals need the courage to initiate change.
Mr. Vollprecht, you have been with First Sensor since 2005 and are currently a project engineer in the product development team at First Sensor Mobility GmbH. What are your main areas?
Introducing autonomous driving is clearly paramount, even if the hype of the early years has given way to a more realistic approach. However, we are finding that industrial companies and start-ups are underestimating the qualifications and certifications required to introduce technologies into series products, particularly when it comes to LiDAR, which is still very new to the automotive industry. These may present serious obstacles for some companies, and require thorough preparation.
What aspects of qualification and certification must be considered for the automotive industry?
System tests can take one to two years in the automotive industry and OEMs expect their suppliers to provide components qualified in accordance with automotive standards. As a developer, I need to pay close attention to these standards, just like manufacturers – not just for LiDAR, of course, but also for other products like cameras and pressure sensors.
Which points are particularly important here?
Essentially, it’s about our products being safe and making sure they don’t malfunction while the vehicle is moving, which could cause an accident. This means, on the one hand, that the development and production process must be certified to ensure that quality remains constant. On the other hand, it means ensuring the required functional safety and proving the necessary reliability and robustness in line with specifications. We have summarized information on these individual points for LiDAR in the white paper entitled „Unveiling the Mystery of LiDAR Qualification for Automotive Applications: The four pillars you should know”.
Career entry opportunities
As diverse as our company itself are the opportunities for coming aboard tailored to your expertise and career goals.
How do you support customers during this process?
Good communication with customers is key to success. All our solutions are developed through close collaboration so that we can monitor requirements precisely and react quickly if framework conditions change. It is our job to establish excellence
in all process steps and to ensure that we meet the exacting requirements of the automotive industry. After all, electronic systems like LiDAR
ultimately act as “eyes” for autonomous vehicles and guarantee their safe operation. What are the focal topics of your work?
Long-term projects with customers take up around half my time, plus the tasks that might arise on any given day. I generally concentrate on software for designing electronics and documentation, check process optimizations, maintain contact with customers and suppliers, and pass on projects to our production team. Development
is an extremely varied area of responsibility. Is there something you particularly enjoy about your role as a developer?
The joy of watching a product become a reality, something you can hold in your hands, never goes away. It’s great to see the tangible results of your own work!What do applicants need to bring to the table to become developers and help introduce autonomous vehicles?
From my perspective, they need to offer both technical expertise and experience in the relevant area of application, but also flexibility and a desire to make change happen. The automotive industry is evolving. This will bring opportunities and growth in various sectors to which we can contribute or completely reshape – for example the introduction of alternative drives
and autonomous driving
. So it can pay off for applicants to consider employers in the sensor technology business in particular. As my example shows, this work is never boring! Thank you for the interview, Mr. Vollprecht!After completing his technician’s apprenticeship at Deutsche Telekom AG, Tilo Vollprecht studied electrical engineering at TU Dresden and first worked (from 2005) as a product and systems engineer at what is now First Sensor Microelectronic Packaging GmbH. He has been a project engineer at First Sensor Mobility GmbH since 2007 and in 2019 was appointed an employee representative on the Supervisory Board of First Sensor AG.