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The “smart eye” for construction sites goes public

​Arcure, founded in 2009, develops 3D vision systems for industrial and construction vehicles with the support of List, a CEA Tech institute. The company recently completed its initial public offering. We spoke to List artificial intelligence, language, and vision expert Patrick Sayd, who develops the image-analysis-based pedestrian-detection technology Arcure uses in its products.

Published on 9 May 2019

1)    Tell us more about Arcure.

Arcure was founded in 2009 to commercialize List's image-processing technologies on the industrial vehicle safety market. Our original research focused on the detection of vulnerable "targets" like pedestrians and cyclists for automotive applications. Arcure's founders came up with the idea of developing similar solutions to make industrial vehicles and robots safer and more autonomous. When Arcure was founded, we immediately set up a joint lab to adapt the technologies we had previously developed for the automotive industry to the industrial vehicle industry and create an ongoing technology-transfer process that we are still using ten years later.

Our effective cooperation produced Arcure's Blaxtair smart pedestrian detection system, which secures the "danger zone" around industrial vehicles in a variety of situations, including the most extreme, from construction sites and mines to logistics facilities and factories.

The system, installed on board the vehicle, includes a smart unit equipped with two cameras and a computer with image-analysis software that scans the environment to detect potential collisions with vulnerable targets and alerts the driver or operator in real time. The system's stereoscopic vision makes it possible to generate a 3D reconstruction of the environment around the vehicle, differentiate between pedestrians and other obstacles, and accurately locate pedestrians to within just a few centimeters.

Arcure recently added a new product to its lineup. The Omega 3D vision sensor, built on Blaxtair technology, was developed specifically for manufacturers and integrators of smart systems for Industry 4.0.

2)    What makes these solutions different from those developed for the automotive industry?

We made the technologies List initially developed for the automotive industry more robust so that they would be able to analyze more complex environments than roads, which, despite the fact that they are populated by many moving users, are fairly well-organized. On a construction site, the vehicle's surrounding environment contains many obstacles of different kinds, such as people, equipment, and materials. The terrain can also vary substantially, from factories to mines. Finally, the vehicles themselves are more complicated than road vehicles, with the ability to rotate or tip, for example.

So, given these complexities, the system has to be able to identify dangerous situations robustly enough to prevent collisions, but without triggering nuisance alerts. It also has to factor in the vehicle's overall volume so that it can focus in on areas of immediate danger.

Blaxtair has carved out a position as the number-one pedestrian detection technology. Global market leaders that either use the technology or integrate it into the vehicles they manufacture—effectively responding to their need to ensure safety around their machines—have rolled out the technology in more than 30 countries. Blaxtair is even available as an optional feature from Jungheinrich, the world's third-leading forklift manufacturer.

3)    Now that the company has gone public, where will it be seeking growth in the future?

Now that Arcure has gone public, its management would like to speed up development, penetrate key markets like Germany and the United States, and build partnerships with the world's leading equipment manufacturers. The company also plans to release Omega, its new high-performance 3D vision system for industrial automation professionals.

Arcure reported revenue of €7.4 million in 2018, with 54% of the company's sales outside France, and revenue growth of 50% from the previous year. Today, the company has set the ambitious revenue target of €60 million by 2023.

Finally, Arcure is pursuing R&D to support the rollout of the technology, first by optimizing the hardware and algorithms to bring costs down and, second, by improving Blaxtair technology's performance so that larger and more complex environments can be analyzed with the smallest possible number of sensors.

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