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LiDAR System That Fits on the Head of a Pin

July 29, 2019

IRD Glass creates all the LiDAR components that are essential to the function of these amazing devices — including entrance windows, precision optical filter substrates, beamsplitters and precision optical mirrors.

This technology, which was first developed by NASA and used on the Apollo 15 mission to map the surface of the moon, has become the primary means for robots and autonomous vehicles to sense the world around them. 

One of the primary constraints that’s holding LiDAR back from broader application is the large size of the devices, typically the size of a softball. But that may be changing.

Miniature LiDAR System

Voyant Photonics has created a compact LiDAR system that can fit on your fingertip. The technology relies on optical phased arrays that alter the phase of the light traveling through the chip to create a strong beam of non-visible light that can scan a large environment at high speed.

The system has no moving parts. Its transmitter and receiver are located in one piece. And according to Voyant Photonics, its performance is comparable to LiDAR systems using traditional optics that are many, many times its size and cost. Potential near-term applications include drones and other weight-sensitive applications, but also driverless cars.

Voyant Photonics claims that their LiDAR systems reduce costs by more than 10 times, which would make it feasible from a design and cost perspective to position dozens of them throughout a driverless car to achieve far more accurate positional data.

Both founders came from the Nanophotonics Group at Columbia University, which essentially invented silicon photonics. Investors are starting to take notice, and the company has already raised $4.3 million from Contour Venture Partners, LDV Capital and DARPA

Procure LiDAR Components from IRD Glass

IRD Glass excels at achieving precision tolerances and helping our customers solve difficult problems. That’s why we have been a sole-source supplier to companies like CyberOptics, Rockwell Collins, Boston Science and Honeywell for decades. Bring us your challenge and we’ll find a solution!

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