At electronica 2016 Osram Opto Semiconductors is showcasing a four-channel laser that could make MEMS-based LIDAR systems (Light Detection and Ranging) for autonomous and semi-autonomous driving a reality. The prototype laser features an extremely short pulse length and four parallel output channels making it suitable for detecting objects and offering a unique vertical detection zone.
For the first time, the Laser will be used in scanning LIDAR sensors that employ micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) that do not need a mechanism to redirect the laser beam. So, they are less susceptible to wear and tear. Osram Opto together with Innoluce, an Infineon Technologies AG company that specializes in laser scanner technology, is demonstrating what the future of LIDAR systems could be.
LIDAR systems measure distances based on a time-of-flight of a laser LIDAR transmits a very short laser pulse that hits an object, is reflected back and then detected by a sensor. From the time-of-flight of the laser beam, the system calculates the distance to the object. This new scanning LIDAR system can use MEMS to direct the laser to scan the surroundings of the car horizontally across a certain angular segment (120 degrees horizontally and 20% vertically). The directed laser pulses reflect back, and calculations produce a high-resolution 3D map of the environment.
The new LIDAR system is different that conventional LIDAR that mostly uses mechanical moving mirrors. Some other LIDAR solutions use of several laser diodes mounted on top of each other to extend the vertical field of view.
A single production step fabricates four laser diodes precisely into the laser bar aligned next to one another to emit four perfectly parallel 905 nm wavelength beams.
Samples of the new 4 channel LIDAR laser will be available from the early summer of 2017, with a market launch planned for 2018.