Actasys uses tiny air jets to clean and cool sensors for self-driving vehicles

Actasys, a New York startup, is making AV and ADAS sensors work effectively by keeping mud, snow and rain away so sensor perceptions are accurate and vehicles can move on their own when needed.

The company, in effect, cleans windows for a living, said CEO Miles Flamenbaum in a Zoom interview.  “It’s a dirty little secret when optical, lidar or infrared sensors are occluded with rain, dust or mud, that data flow becomes unreliable and not useful for the intended function,” he said.

Actasys is developing tech that focuses a jet of air on sensor lenses with an electronically controlled actuator. It is also working on a similar process to reduce heat in sensors to replace bulky heat traps.

Disks only 3mm thick are used in the company’s ActaJet devices to emit a series of puffs of air at high speeds, up to 120 meters per second.  

 The system even is able to provide intelligence and explain what went wrong with the sensors. Flamenbaum said the  system comes in a thin form factor that offers a significant reduction in power.

The company was started in 2013, spun out from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and now employs 16 full-time engineers out of its headquarters in Brooklyn, NY. Ultimately, the cooling technology being developed could be used in much larger systems.  The work first started for NASA, and Actasys uses machine learning to detect vision sensor loss and provide corrections in milliseconds.

Seed investments totaled $5 million and now Flamenbaum is on a quest to raise $10 million in a Series A round. Its first products are due out at the end of the year.  The company is working with several chip and circuit board manufacturers and in December announced a development agreement with train maker Alstom to provide  thermal management devices for train control and monitoring systems that can heat up and need to be cooled. Last August, the company signed an agreement with Webasto to ensure functioning of its roof sensor module.

At CES 2023, Actasys opened a booth in the West Hall of LVCC alongside scores of companies in the automotive sector. 

Actasys is developing ActaJet devices to clean and cool sensors used in self-driving vehicles.

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