Oregon-based sensor technology company, PulsedLight has developed a low-cost new optical ranging sensor technology called LIDAR-Lite that is ideally suited for any project requiring very compact, low power, high performance distance measurement sensors, such as drones, robots, or unmanned vehicles.
The founders of PulsedLight, Bob Lewis and Dennis Corey, recognized that there was an unmet need for an optical distance measurement sensor technology that addressed applications where a very small, low-power, high performance, reduced cost optical ranging sensor was required.
They have now introduced their technology in the form of the LIDAR-Lite, a very small form factor, optical distance measurement sensor capable of measuring out to 40 meters using inexpensive, off-the-shelf, electro-optical components.
PulsedLight has created a series of new innovations which applies edge based signal reconstruction methods, similar to that used in radar, to optical rangefinders and also incorporates signal correlation processing to perform a “signature match” between a captured transmit signal record and the received signal. This specialized signal processing method enables a single-chip processing implementation using programmable logic chips suitable for low cost, ultra-small optical distance measurement sensor applications.
The experience gained from developing long-range sensors for industrial and consumer products has been applied to this design allowing us to maximize its performance. The resulting tests of early prototypes, including flying it on a UAV, have been very promising.
The beam width of the LIDAR-Lite as delivered is 1.5°. This narrow beam provides long-range performance and also enables better target selectivity than an ultrasonic sensor. The optics can be removed increasing the beam width to about 6° and reducing range to approximately 5 meters. This broad, short-range beam is great for applications, such as proximity detection.
Operating from a 5vdc power source and drawing only 100 milliamps peak power when it is taking a measurement and under 10 milliamps when idle, the LIDAR-Lite is ideally suited for projects running from battery sources where low power consumption is critical.
The I2C communications interface allows multiple modules to be connected as slaves to a common communications bus.
The combination of attributes found in the LIDAR-Lite – high performance, low cost, small size, light-weight, low power consumption, and dynamic configurability along with I2C communications and addressing – means that it becomes practical to install multiple sensors on a project with minimal weight and power penalties.