One of the more interesting announcements to come out of an electronics trade fair in Munich, Germany last week involves a four channel solid state lidar sensor. Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH of Regensburg, Germany is showcasing a prototype four-channel laser that is said to take LIDAR (light detection and ranging) systems for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving a step closer.
With an extremely short pulse length and four parallel output channels, the prototype laser offers new options for detecting objects and a unique vertical detection zone, says Osram. This can be used for the first time in scanning LIDAR sensors based on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). Such solutions do not need a mechanism to re-direct the laser beam, so they are less susceptible to wear and tear. Together with Innoluce (an Infineon Technologies AG company and specialist in laser scanner technology) Osram says that it is showcasing what the future of LIDAR systems may look like.
The overall system covers a field of view of 120° horizontal and 20° vertical (with a resolution of 0.1° horizontal and 0.5° vertical). In daylight the range for detecting vehicles is at least 200m and for pedestrians 70m.
But don’t get too excited the system will not be available in mass production until 2018. A lot can happen in that time period as there are a number of companies such as Velodyne that are working on solid state lidar.