Draper have unveiled a newly developed LiDAR-on-a-Chip solution for autonomous vehicles, incorporating patented all-digital MEMS optical switches for beamsteering.
Unlike many LiDAR systems which often depend on high cost, poor reliability mechanical scanning, Draper’s recently advanced LiDAR solution uses all-digital switches.
Suitably rugged for harsh environments, Draper’s solution also provides greater range and resolution than current LiDAR options that use analog beamsteering. This is in part attributed to the innovative use of optical switches, MEMS and integrated photonics, all on a single-chip.
Capable of imaging objects at 50 meters, this high-resolution solid-state LiDAR integrates:
- Low-loss waveguides with verified losses under one dB/cm
- MEMS optical switches with lifetimes surpassing 10 billion cycles
A matrix of optical switches emit and collect light, whilst gathering little ambient light and so enabling a superior signal-to-noise ratio.
Sabrina Mansur, Draper’s self-driving vehicle program manager explained “At Draper, we have experience with differing beamsteering methods, such as optical phased arrays. However, we feel MEMS optical switches provide an elegant simplicity. If we want to image a target at a specified location, we simply enable the corresponding optical switch, whereas other approaches rely on precise analog steering, which is challenging given automotive’s thermal and vibration environment.”
The new LiDAR, which is available to license, is being currently being developed to image a range of hundreds of meters while providing a corresponding angular resolution targeted at less than 0.1-degrees.
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