Sweep Looks to Bring LiDAR Technology to Everyone

LiDAR is a technology normally reserved for those with a lot of money, but a group has taken to Kickstarter to give you access to the technology for a minimal price.

Sweep is an impressive device given its low spec stats and reduced price model. With a range of 40 metres, the device can be used both indoors and outdoor for everything from security sensors to detect when someone enters a room, to a drone detecting when someone enters your garden.

Featuring 360 scanning capabilities you can even use Sweep to map out a room, giving you the dimensions of a room with ease, something useful for people who want to remodel a room and don’t want to use a tape measure or laser distance finder to map out every single indent and outlet.

Given its low-end target the technology is going above and beyond, providing support and example projects for people looking to use the system on the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and other systems.

With an expected delivery date for the first products in the fourth quarter of this year, you could soon see the technology used in other projects with prices going as low as $249 for the device.

Offering something for almost a quarter of the market price for something is going to have a lot of interest and with the project already meeting half its Kickstarter target with 26 days to go, it could soon become a reality.

Ford Test Autonomous Car in Snow

Autonomous cars have come a long way in recent times, with some even being considered safer than human drivers. But now Ford have decided to try out their autonomous car in snow, which can even cause trouble for experienced human drivers.

Ford’s self-driving car makes use of a technology they have termed “snowtonomy”, which integrates high definition maps to allow the car to fill in the gaps that its sensors cannot see due to the adverse weather.

The car employs the standard array of laser-imagine LIDAR sensors that it is equipped with in order to build the most accurate picture of the current location as possible. It then matches this 3D image against the stored maps in order to maintain the car’s position on the road. According to Ford, this system is accurate enough for the car to be able to stay in lane, even when road markings are obscured by snow.

The testing ground for this technology has been Mcity, an artificial city created by the University of Michigan, specifically for testing autonomous cars. This has allowed Ford to gain a lot of experience with self-driving cars in adverse conditions such as rain and snow.

Technologies like Ford’s “snowtonomy” really show that companies out there are bringing their self-driving systems to the next level. Driving in straight lines in perfect conditions is hardly a challenge for today’s self-driving technology, but for autonomous cars to truly displace the human driver, they will have to be able to adapt to all conditions, be it visibility impairing or a lack of grip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vShi-xx6ze8

Could Your Smartphone Soon Have a 3D Scanner?

A new camera sensor designed at CalTech by researchers Professor Ali  Hajimiri may soon enable smartphones to take 3D scans. The new chip is called a nanophotonic coherent imager, and uses a form of LIDAR to capture height, width, and depth information for each pixel.

Professor Hajimiri explains “by having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager.”

The researchers have taken the expensive high-tech LIDAR and distilled it to a very small and inexpensive device that can maintain accuracy. They still have a bit of work on their hands though as the current chip only has 16 pixels on it and they will need to create a larger array on a chip to be able to scan items without moving the device around.

Source: The Verge