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Russian tech gurus sharpen accuracy of optical radar’s function ten-fold

October 11, 15:06 UTC+3 MOSCOW
This development might find a broad application range in automobile, aircraft, and ship manufacturing, optical detection and in various automatic surrounding recognition systems (computer vision)
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© Vladimir Smirnov/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, October 10. TASS/. Researchers from Institute of Physics, Nanotechnologies, and Telecommunications of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) together with the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology have introduced an optical emitter capable of increasing the accuracy in functioning optical radars nearly ten-fold. This type of advantage in operational speed can be gained by applying shorter optical pulses for the scanning procedure than in other modern emitters, the university’s press service stated.

An optical radar is a device for estimating range comprised of three main blocks: an emitter sending an optical signal (for instance, a laser beam), a receiver catching the signal reflected by various objects around the radar, and a data processing system, retrieving the picture of the surrounding landscape by the specific differences and delay times between the outgoing and incoming signals.

In this respect, if the scanning pulse’s duration was shorter and more powerful, then the longer its range could be and the greater the accuracy in the radar’s functioning could be as well. Consequently, by focusing only on the optical emitter, the overall characteristics of the whole radar might be improved. "We decreased the pulse duration keeping its strength, which in turn led to an increase in range and better precision of its functioning," said the Head of the Laboratory of the Chair of Physical Electronics at SPbPU Alexei Filimonov. "This required us not only to establish new hardware components, but also to adopt an essentially new design of the electronic device."

The new optical emitter is a chip the size of a match head that is capable of being fitted into a standard LED case or a laser. The duration of its pulses is roughly 80% shorter than in other similar modern devices. The chip is wholly manufactured in Russia and produced using technologies of layer-by-layer growth of metal-dielectric structures and by original methods of arranging electronic components.

The results of the study have been presented at the 16th International Conference of the "Internet of Things, Smart Spaces and Next Generation Wired/Wireless Advanced Networks and Systems" (NEW2AN 2016) held this September. The device’s basic fundamentals have been described in an article published recently in the IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices.

Now, the researchers are looking to partner up with local business and scientific establishments to finalize the laboratory prototype’s design for production. They believe, this development might find a broad application range in automobile, aircraft, and ship manufacturing, optical detection and in various automatic surrounding recognition systems (computer vision). Moreover, the optical radars, the so-called lidars, are one of the fundamental electronic components for driverless cars. Every upgrade in their working features or cost-cutting edge might bring about groundbreaking progress in the field of autonomous vehicles.

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