Hybrid ToF sensor reduces smart robot size
Infineon has extended its collaboration with OMS and pmdtechnologies to develop a hybrid time of flight sensing technique for smart consumer robots.
The hybrid Time of Flight (hToF) camera combines two depth sensing concepts and helps significantly reduce maintenance effort and costs for smart robots.
Infineon’s REAL3 flexible ToF imager technology enables the combination of established high-resolution iToF flood illumination and dToF long-range spot illumination in a single hybrid Time of Flight camera.
This has been used to see the smallest objects in the path of the robot and navigate around them, but adding precise long-range spot data now also allows creation of an accurate 3D map of the surrounding area for intelligent path planning experiences even in challenging light conditions.
The design reduces the height of robot vacuum cleaners by 20-30 percent, fully replacing the top-mounted LDS (Laser Distance Scanner) making it possible to clean even under furniture with low clearance. Measuring only 31x16x8 mm, the hybrid ToF camera requires much less space for improved mapping and obstacle avoidance functionality. Making multiple sensors redundant, hybrid ToF reduces system costs as well as operation costs, since there are no moving parts that wear out over time.
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This comes as robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot is set to lay off a third of its staff after the collapse of a deal with Amazon.
The compact hybrid ToF can be used for mobile consumer robot devices in various industries such as robot vacuum cleaners, commercial robots, air-purifiers and size measurement.
“The partnership with pmdtechnologies and OMS is a great example of how Infineon fosters technology innovation and digitalization together,” said Andreas Kopetz, Vice President Ambient Sensing at Infineon. “Our hybrid ToF solution caters to a rapidly expanding consumer robotic market with a wide array of applications and makes it possible for customers to come up with unique robot designs, on top of reduced system costs and complexity by one camera replacing multiple.”
“Infineon and pmdtechnologies’ hybrid ToF adopts an innovative patent architecture and is paired with dual illumination,” said Eden Xiao, General Manager, Jiangxi OMS Microelectronics Co., Ltd. “For a manufacturer like OMS, the solution has exceptional advantages such as small size, low power consumption, and a reduction of overall application cost. We are excited to utilize the unique optical design scheme that avoids multipath problems and achieves a combination of precise positioning and obstacle avoidance, further enhancing the competitiveness of hybrid ToF camera products.”