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Blinded by Science

Did you know that the reflective safety clothing you wear while biking at night or walking around a construction site could actually make you invisible to some of today’s leading LiDAR sensors?

Voyant’s LiDAR sensors have no trouble seeing a nighttime biker, a construction worker, or anyone else for that matter. And we’re just getting started!

It’s pretty surprising that some of today’s market-leading LiDARs might not be able to see you crossing the street below a big bright traffic sign. Objects like safety vests or road signs are bright in order to keep people safe from accidents while driving at night, or walking around a dangerous construction zone or warehouse. Clearly visible to a driver with their headlights on, these things save countless lives every day. LiDAR is supposed to be the vision sensor of the future that will keep us safe. In reality, the LiDARs of today aren’t up for the task. That’s where Voyant comes in.

High-visibility clothing and traffic signs are made with retroreflective materials that reflect light back toward the direction of the lightsource. To a LIDAR, these materials appear extremely bright compared to most other common materials that scatter light in all directions. So bright, in fact, that the Time of Flight (ToF) LIDAR is partially blinded.

This is actually one of several well-known failure modes for many of today’s market-leading LiDAR sensors. This particular effect is called blooming. Other effects include ghost images, distortions, blind spots, sunlight interference, and interference from other LiDAR sensors. Voyant’s LiDAR technology is immune to all of these effects.

Voyant’s frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDAR sensors have a higher dynamic range than most of today’s leading ToF LiDAR sensors. That means Voyant sensors can see dark objects and bright retroreflective objects no matter where they are located in a scene. Our sensors are also immune to blooming, ghosting and other distortion effects, making them more reliable sensors for performing navigation, object tracking, and many other machine perception applications in uncontrolled environments.

Stay tuned for more examples of how Voyant products are outperforming today’s legacy LIDAR technology.

 

Steve Miller

AUTHOR

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