John Wallace at Laser Focus World reports that a potentially very compact and inexpensive lidar unit has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). It is built around a (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) that is wavelength-tunable via a movable micro-electrical-mechanical-systems (MEMS) element.
The device is designed for sensing to distances of about 10 m, which is the “sweet spot” for applications such as self-driving cars, smartphone gesturing from afar, and interactive video games similar to Microsoft’s Kinect.
The UC Berkeley device has the potential to be integrated into a chip-scale package. In contrast, current lasers used in high-resolution lidar imaging can be large, power-hungry, and expensive. This has potential.