Tech 

Without it, autonomous cars are blind. The new LiDAR solves the original’s biggest problem

Scientists have printed an ultra-thin optical device on LiDAR, revolutionizing the technology

LiDAR sensors are a common feature in cars with a certain degree of autonomy. They work by continuously firing beams invisible to the human eye around the car, which then bounce off the surfaces they hit. They are then returned to the sensor and thus provide it with a detailed view of the surroundings, taking into account not only the distance, but even the shape of individual elements. From this data you can even determine the speed and direction of travel, so it is undoubtedly a piece of phenomenal technology.

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issue? In its current state, it does not allow simultaneous observation of the entire vehicle environment, as usually LiDAR is omnidirectionally mimicked by rotating. To solve this problem, a large team of scientists developed a permanent LiDAR sensor that itself works 360 ° and is very small. In their work, they relied on meta-concrete in the form of an ultra-thin, measuring only 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair, planar optical device.

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This device confirms that it is possible to obtain information about objects around a fixed LiDAR sensor by scattering more than 10,000 matrix (light) points from the metasphere on the objects and photographing the irradiated point pattern with a camera. All this using not nanoscale optical elements, but direct prints at the same scale that can be applied to various curved surfaces. As a result, the scientists’ work could lead to the development of small and efficient LiDAR sensors.

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