Pointcloud Inc. Presents Coherent ToF Camera

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San Francisco-based startup Pointcould, Opris Consulting, and University of Southampton, UK publish Arxiv paper "A universal 3D imaging sensor on a silicon photonics platform" by Christopher Rogers, Alexander Y. Piggott, David J. Thomson, Robert F. Wiser, Ion E. Opris, Steven A. Fortune, Andrew J. Compston, Alexander Gondarenko, Fanfan Meng, Xia Chen, Graham T. Reed, and Remus Nicolaescu.

"A large-scale two-dimensional array of coherent detector pixels operating as a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system could serve as a universal 3D imaging platform. Such a system would offer high depth accuracy and immunity to interference from sunlight, as well as the ability to directly measure the velocity of moving objects. However, due to difficulties in providing electrical and photonic connections to every pixel, previous systems have been restricted to fewer than 20 pixels. Here, we demonstrate the first large-scale coherent detector array consisting of 512 (32×16) pixels, and its operation in a 3D imaging system. Leveraging recent advances in the monolithic integration of photonic and electronic circuits, a dense array of optical heterodyne detectors is combined with an integrated electronic readout architecture, enabling straightforward scaling to arbitrarily large arrays. Meanwhile, two-axis solid-state beam steering eliminates any tradeoff between field of view and range. Operating at the quantum noise limit, our system achieves an accuracy of 3.1 mm at a distance of 75 metres using only 4 mW of light, an order of magnitude more accurate than existing solid-state systems at such ranges. Future reductions of pixel size using state-of-the-art components could yield resolutions in excess of 20 megapixels for arrays the size of a consumer camera sensor. This result paves the way for the development of low cost and high performance 3D imaging cameras, enabling new applications from robotics to autonomous navigation."

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