Laser systems for autonomous driving

Nowadays high-powered laser system technology that provides the driving of light detection and ranging systems (LIDAR) becomes virtually a common tool used for the development of autonomous vehicles. To be more precise, the technique of LIDAR, based on the use of infrared laser systems, allows directing autonomous vehicles by producing a real-time, 3D image of the world.

The laser technology includes the combination of pulsed fiber laser and single-pixel sensors or high-powered laser system flash illumination applying the time of flight cameras to create the required 3D images. Thus, the obtained laser system can carry out the travel time measurement of the light produced a laser beam from the autonomous vehicle to the target and back to the vehicle.

Additionally, this laser system technology offers a highly attractive benefit for LIDAR manufacturers, that is increased laser system power resulting in the opportunity for 3D maps to capture more objects and scenery from longer distances. Nevertheless, the most important thing is eye safety, that is why short pulses produced by the laser beam play a crucial role.

The thing is that more rapid pulsing is (for example, more than 1 million times per second), more data points and better signal quality are presented since the fast rise and fall times are essential. The recent development has the target to transmit LIDAR power emitted by the laser beam of 120W per channel “in a four-channel SMT package delivering >480W peak power with approximately 2 ns full-width half maximum (FWHM) pulses and <1 ns rise and fall times”.

LIDAR technology employs two primary wavelengths of laser systems: 905 and 1550 nm that offer their advantages. For example, a CMOS or other silicon detector can identify 905 nm laser beam, therefore, the cost becomes lower and the complexity reduces. Laser systems of 1550 nm wavelengths can be detected by silicon photomultipliers, and eventually indium gallium arsenide detectors, however, they have some problems at the 105°C temperature required for automotive qualification. as well as challenges with eye safety.

Finally, multichannel laser systems are quite necessary because the application of eight laser modules in individual firing will provide 1% resolution or 15 cm steps, whereas the minimum amplitude and dynamic range is virtually 18 dB when applying a 1 ns time of flight. In fact, based on the mentioned advantages, it is better to use 05 nm multichannel high-power lidar laser systems with nanosecond pulses. 

There is an opinion that the presented laser technology should have a hybridized mode including short transmitted pulses with a slightly longer duration receiver “window” resulting in the more reliable laser system. The main obstacle of LIDAR technology was overcome due to the opportunity to transmit shorter pulses that allowed for optimal eye safety, thermal management, and consequently, high resolution.

Optromix is a fast-growing fiber laser manufacturer and a vendor of optical fiber sensors and optical monitoring systems. The company offers fast turnkey solutions and creates sophisticated fiber laser systems for special purposes. Optromix uses only its own technologies and develops a broad variety of fiber lasers. If you have any questions or would like to buy a laser system, please contact us at info@optromix.com

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