Fujitsu unveils world's first super-wide-angle 3D laser radar

Promises to significantly improve reversing safety in vehicles

29 Oct 2012
Fujitsu 3D laser radar

Fujitsu Laboratories has taken the wraps off what it claims is the world's first super-wide-angle 3D laser radar sensor, a device which could help bring reversing sensor technology to smaller and cheaper vehicles.

Previously, rear-facing sensors - which alert the driver of obstacles when reversing into or out of a parking space - have been limited to small cameras or ultrasonic wave sensors, both of which have limitations: the viewing angle of a camera is limited and the driver must focus on the small screen at all times, while ultrasonic sensors are only able to alert the driver to the rough distance between the vehicle and an object.

In higher-end vehicles, laser radars as used instead to provide a far greater accuracy to obstacle detection. This has its own drawback: laser radar sensors are typically limited to a detection angle of no more than 60 degrees, meaning multiple sensors are required to cover the full rear of a vehicle - increasing the cost of the system and reducing its feasibility in the budget market.

Fujitsu's work promises to solve that problem. The company's 3D laser radar features a newly-developed scanning angle expansion lens which beams the laser over a wide-angle range, combined with a high-speed multipoint laser scanning system to detect objects at high speed. The result is a system capable of covering an angle of 140 degrees both horizontally and vertically using just a single laser projector and sensing component.

Fujitsu is aiming the system at both luxury and budget car makers, allowing those with existing cameras to overlay accurate distance information over the image and those without to provide audible feedback as to the location of objects at the rear. Should the system prove successful, the company has indicated a desire to branch out into the fields of security and monitoring.

Thus far, Fujitsu hasn't confirmed if any automotive companies have immediate plans to adopt the 3D laser radar sensor system.

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