Head of Electronics and Vision Systems Engineering
Jérôme SENESCHAL, Tell us a bit about Vision Systems:
JS : " From 1928 to 2004 Robert Berliet Entreprise (RBE) was a manufacturer of rear-view mirrors and other accessories for coach buses and trucks. In the 1970s the company introduced a line of sun protection products. In the 1990s we started making airplane cockpit sun shades.
The company went through some changes between 2005 and 2010. It was bought out by a group of private investors and Vision Systems Aeronautics and Vision Systems Automotive were set up. The priority shifted to innovative products. We focused on improving our manufacturing processes and performance and moved operations into a more project-oriented mode.
From 2010 to 2015 the automotive business unit was reoriented towards the marine and rail markets, fueled by strong international growth. We opened a plant in the United States and a sales office in Singapore. In 2016 we created a new business unit, Smart Life, which designs, manufactures, and commercializes opacifying solutions.
Vision Systems is based near Lyon and has a subsidiary in the United States and a sales office in Singapore. We are a tier-1 supplier, which means that we design, manufacture and sell custom end-to-end solutions to the aeronautics, land transportation, and marine industries.
We have built up in-depth knowledge of sun protection systems and, specifically, opacifying solutions, a field in which we are currently one of the global leaders. We are also solidly anchored in the on-board entertainment, high-end composites, and driver-assistance systems markets. And we are still one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of rear-view mirrors and attack-proof doors. We draw on a range of know-how in fields like electronics, mechanics, and composite materials to innovate solutions that meet our customers’ requirements for cost, safety, and comfort."
What made you decide to join Minalogic?
JS : "Vision Systems was already a member of Pôle Optique Rhône-Alpes, so when the cluster merged with Minalogic, it was only natural for us to stay on as a member. We like to think of our company as an “innovation architect,” so we need to stay up-to-date on the latest technological innovations affecting not only our business, but other businesses as well. Because an idea from another industry could very well be adapted to our customers’ needs. So, Minalogic is one of the ways we stay up-to-date on the latest technology. And, in terms of service, Minalogic has connected us with other companies that have helped us become more competitive."
What collaborative R&D projects are you involved in?
JS : "Vision System is a key stakeholder in efforts to improve mobility. We are currently developing a solution called Smart Vision that would replace physical rear-view mirrors with a system of cameras and monitors. The cameras are mounted outside the vehicle; the monitors and smart capabilities are inside. And the system does more than just display the images from the cameras. It analyzes them to detect obstacles like other cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, and cyclists in the trajectory of a vehicle when it is passing, even in the blind spot."
What services have you used since joining Minalogic?
JS : " We have really taken advantage of targeted introductions, especially through the Photonics Group led by David Vitale. In addition to our smart rear-view mirror system, we are also developing new opacifying technologies that will enable self-dimming windows for the aeronautics, marine, rail, and land transportation industries. Scaling up the technology for manufacturing—making sure certain steps in the production process were reliable enough—required a lot of research. Minalogic introduced us to labs and startups capable of helping improve our manufacturing process."
What kinds of partnerships are you looking for as a Minalogic member? Business? Innovation?
JS : "We are looking for enabling technologies or partners to help improve our products. Specifically, we are seeking innovations in microelectronics, printed electronics, display technologies, and photonics—all within Minalogic’s scope—that will set us apart from our competitors."