Polarith was founded in 2016 as a startup in the environment of Magdeburg’s Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation (IFF) and Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg (OVGU). The two founders – Martin Kirst and Franz Pieper – got to know each other early on while studying computational visualistics in the Faculty of Computer Science. Since its founding in their degree program’s interdisciplinary spirit, they have been developing the company with influences from mathematics, algorithms, simulation, computer graphics, signal processing, engineering, and artificial intelligence (AI).
After receiving their master’s degrees from the Department of Computational Intelligence at the Institute for Intelligent Cooperating Systems (IKS) under Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Sanaz Mostaghim in 2015, Franz Pieper and Martin Kirst bonded over their love for Saxony-Anhalt and Central Germany. To enrich their home region and the European market with a highly innovative technology company, they turned to the Investitionsbank Sachsen-Anhalt (IB). The IB gave them a startup grant and thus created the ideal conditions for the startup’s later success.
The First Project
Polarith was successfully working on an AI construction kit for computer simulations and video games in a single room above a car repair shop during the given startup grant. The resulting product, Polarith AI, enables simulation and game developers to create self-driving cars and autonomously controlled characters for virtual worlds without in-depth AI knowledge. To this day, the AI product is available in the Unity Asset Store and remains a useful tool for Unity developers.
Road to the Industry
The young company’s second project was closely related to the founding project and dealt with the computer-aided 3D simulation of autonomously controlled cranes in industrial halls and container ports. The success of the project was a decisive step into a completely new market. Since then, Polarith’s primary focus shifted away from virtual simulation to real automation. A deep closeness to industry emerged so that to this day, Polarith successfully implements projects that create innovations in the automation and digitalization of industrial plants and processes. Polarith’s vision has always remained consistent: to make the latest findings from research and science profitably available to customers and apply them optimally to implement projects.
Polarith finally gave up its status as a “garage startup” in 2018 and moved into a new office space close to Magdeburg’s university. This office finally offered enough room for the team, which had grown to 10 colleagues. To round off the company’s transformation to a real industrial market, Richard Herrmann joined Polarith’s management team as the head of engineering in 2020. With the combined knowledge from the company’s various fields of activity, novel products for automation and digitalization have been created since then. With the “Cranium” hardware and software platform, Polarith sets new standards for control technology in crane systems’ automation.
Polarith is particularly committed to using interdisciplinary knowledge from fields such as artificial intelligence, medical informatics, and industrial automation only for the benefit of our society and the people in Europe and the entire world and – last but not least – for the service of the planet. Thus, we explicitly distance ourselves from using advanced methods and algorithms to create destructive technologies such as developing autonomous weapon systems.