Improving ToF Resolution 1000-Fold

If you would like to learn some physics over the holiday weekend this article about a new approach to increasing the accuracy of lidar measurement by 1000 fold over current sensors will be worth the effort.

From the press release:

In a novel approach to time-of-flight (ToF) imaging, researchers from MIT correlated the principle of heterodyning to ToF, increasing depth resolution 1000-fold. Higher ToF resolution could enable accurate distance measurements through fog, removing a major obstacle to the development of self-driving cars.

To test their approach, the team sent a light signal through 500 meters of optical fiber before feeding the signal to the MIT-developed system. The fiber had regularly spaced filters along its length to simulate the power falloff incurred over longer distances.

Results from the team’s experiment showed depth sensing at 3-µm resolution at 2 m and at Hertz-level framerates, and robustness to extreme vibrations. The team believes that these results could be used to develop applications for obtaining high-quality 3D scans in uncontrolled environments, and that the study could provide a foundation for future work in computational imaging, where cascaded modulating elements are incorporated into the correlation ToF architecture.

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