Researchers at the University of Washington have achieved a remarkable breakthrough by introducing a smaller, more affordable LiDAR technology. This breakthrough solves the limitations of traditional LiDAR systems by eliminating the need for moving parts. Its compact size and affordability hold immense importance for multiple technology industries.
The researchers integrated a laser beam-steering device onto a computer chip, leveraging quantum effects to control the laser beam's direction. This chip-based LiDAR is lightweight, compact, and cost-effective. Generating high-frequency sound pulses creates quantum quasi-particles called phonons, which effectively bend the laser beam for precise 3D imaging. Chip-based LiDAR offers accurate object detection from over 100 meters away.
Professor Mo Li, the lead researcher from the University of Washington's Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) team, highlights the significance of this breakthrough, stating, “This new technology uses sound running on the surface of the chip to steer a scanning laser into free space."
With its reduced size, elimination of moving parts, and affordability, LiDAR technology has become more accessible and versatile across various sectors. Chip-based LiDAR enhances autonomous vehicles' perception capabilities, improves drone operations safety, and enables efficient robotics. This breakthrough lays the foundation for future advancements, promising positive transformations in industries and driving technological progress for the betterment of humanity.