As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, the aforementioned is a solution that they have been developing for a year now, and which enables visual inspection of products on production lines. Its application, as explained by Filip Novoselnik, the co-founder and director of the Croatian company Protostar Labs, is extremely broad, but they’re still primarily focused on industrial production in larger series.
The delivery of the Vision Box is just the beginning of the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision technology that they’ve been busy developing, which contributes to the automation of industrial production. It contributes because it enables the quick and early detection of any product defect. In addition, it gives the company that uses it an in depth insight into all sorts of data and statistics via the Protostar cloud platform, which enables the better organisation of the overall production process.
All of these advantages will soon be made available to more companies as the Croatian company Protostar Labs is working on the development of two more versions of the Vision Box. The smaller one, which consists only of a small computer with a camera, will be intended for wider application because it has all the characteristics of a surveillance camera, only this one will be smart. According to Novoselnik, the bigger one will be a more sophisticated version of the existing Vision Box.
Both new versions should be ready and on the market in three to six months, and with their launch, the founder of the Croatian company Protostar Labs expects to increase the company’s general level of competitiveness and ensure access to demanding foreign markets.
What is particularly interesting about this young but promising company from Belisce, whose development office is located in Osijek, is that, in addition to solutions intended for the automation of the “terrestrial” industry, they also develop solutions for the one in space, something that hardly any company in Croatia can boast of.
Ultimately, the universe and its puzzles were the reason why the Croatian company Protostar Labs was founded. The idea, as recalled by Novoselnik, was born in the Anonymus Astronomical Society in Valpovo. “Back in 2019, the informal founding assembly of Protostar Labs was held there, and the name of the company was inspired by space and means ‘a star in the making’. Our initial idea was to profile ourselves in the long term as a company that develops solutions for the space industry, but at the time it seemed an unlikely feat, so we decided to start with what was more attainable for us, which is the domestic industry, which really lacks high-tech solutions that facilitate, speed up, and ultimately optimise the production process. We started with the development of a system based on a combination of cameras and sensors and AI algorithms, the goal of which is visual inspection of products,” stated Novoselnik.
Even though it seemed almost impossible just three years ago, the Croatian company Protostar Labs, which is still a small company that started its journey with only two employees, and today already has fifteen of them, is proof that with knowledge, persistence and creativity, anything is possible, even entering the space industry. They managed to do that last year when they passed the competition of the European Space Agency (ESA).
For ESU, as Novoselnik pointed out, they developed a software package that enables the faster and simpler development of solutions, i.e. models of AI and computer vision with the aim of their easier implementation on hardware devices with limited resources.
“Their application, on the one hand, is intended for satellite systems because satellites, which have limited capacity, process huge amounts of data that isn’t very easy to send back home to Earth. Our solution should enable data processing to be transferred to a satellite and only data of interest should be sent back to Earth,” he explained, adding that a prototype has been developed, but the solution is still in the early stages of development and still needs to be tested. They have already tested it out on drones, and the plan is to do the same on a stratospheric balloon at an altitude of 20 kilometres. ESA will decide whether or not to test it on a satellite, and if that doesn’t happen, the system they developed will be used here on Earth.
“Our idea is to develop systems that have a dual application and that high technologies that are designed and made for space can also be applied in industry,” Novoselnik pointed out. In addition to all of the above, the Croatian company Protostar Labs is in the running for another project for ESA, in cooperation with the Zagreb-based FER, with which they are developing a module for the characterisation of light pollution on Earth. “We applied for the competition and we’re waiting for the results,” Novoselnik said briefly.
This small but doggedly determinted company from Belisce therefore develops numerous projects, and last year it all began to bring in financial benefits, as their income grew by as much as 730 percent compared to 2020, to an impressive 2.71 million kuna. This is encouraging indeed for such a young company that is still, to a large extent, focused on investing in the technology they’re developing, not to mention the fact that they mostly financed this development with their own funds and those from the EU.
Small companies developing here in Croatia unfortunately, according to Novoselnik, are forced to spend too much time trying to deal with formalities and bureaucracy, and this comes to the fore especially with EU projects.
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