Toshiba expands solid state lidar to smart cities

June 11, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Toshiba expands solid state lidar to smart cities
Improved light receiving sensor design gives 200m range in a 350cc lidar unit for monitoring transport in smart cities

Toshiba has updated its solid-state LiDAR sensor to make its suitable for smart city infrastructure applications such as traffic monitoring

The unit uses a new generation of silicon photo-multiplier (SiPM) light-receiving chips to boost the resolution by a factor of four over the original prototype to 1200 x 80 pixels. Each SiPM consists of light-receiving cells controlled by a smaller transistor modules. These use a insulating trench to isolate the transistors from the photo cells. Adding a high-withstand voltage section to raise the voltage input to the light-receiving cell increases the light sensitivity by 50 percent.

Current smart city systems use cameras, but their performance is degraded by low light levels and adverse weather conditions. The solid-state LiDAR unit provides robust 3D scanning and object detection across a wide variety of lighting and weather conditions at a range of 200m. At 350cm3, the unit is also one-third the size of the earlier prototype announced back in July 2020.

“We have developed technologies essential for a compact, high-resolution, long-range solid-state LiDAR solution that is robust and simple to implement. Major demand for such a versatile solution is anticipated in both the autonomous driving and transportation infrastructure monitoring applications,” said Akihide Sai, Senior Research Scientist at Toshiba’s Corporate Research & Development Centre. “We look forward to deploying this next generation LiDAR unit in roadside installations.”

Toshiba says it has also ensured that the LiDAR unit exhibits the durability that is essential for outdoor use in all weather conditions. A temperature compensation mechanism automatically adjusts the voltage input applied to the light-receiving cells, in order to mitigate the effect of external temperature changes. This means that higher performance is maintained despite any ambient temperature fluctuations.

The company says it is continuing R&D to increase the the detection range, image resolution and miniaturization for robots, drones and small security devices.

www.toshiba.com

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