Drives and Controls Magazine
3D cameras will no longer be dazzled by bright light
Published:  26 January, 2023

Two German companies, Jabil and Osram, have collaborated a Lithuanian OEM manufacturer Artilux to develop a 3D camera technology that can operate in both indoor and bright outdoor environments, with a sensing range of up to 20m.

Existing 3D cameras can experience problems in areas with bright or changing light conditions. But such sensors are vital for applications such as AMRs (autonomous mobile robots), which have to move between indoor and sunlit areas and need depth information from 3D sensors for functions such as identifying obstacles, avoiding collisions, localisation and route planning.

The new 3D camera, which operates on a wavelength of 1130 nanometers in the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) region, is designed to overcome lighting problems.

“For too long, industry has accepted 3D sensing solutions limiting the operation of their material-handling platforms to environments not impacted by the sun,” explains Ian Blasch, senior director of business development for Jabil’s optics division. “The new SWIR camera provides a glimpse of the unbounded future of 3D sensing where sunlight no longer impinges on the utility of autonomous platforms.

“This new generation of 3D cameras,” he adds, “will not only change the expected industry standard for mid-range ambient light tolerance but will usher in a new paradigm of sensors capable of working across all lighting environments.”

To develop the new system, Jabil, Osram and Artilux combined their expertise in 3D sensing architecture design, semiconductor lasers, and germanium-silicon sensor arrays based on a scalable CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology. They have demonstrated prototypes of the 3D camera at Jabil’s optical design centre in Jena, Germany.

A demonstration set-up for the 3D camera technology which can operate reliably indoors or outdoors.Photo: Business Wire

Dr Joerg Strauss, senior vice-president and general manager of ams Osram’s visualisation and sensing business, explains the significance of the laser development: “1130nm is the first-of-its-kind SWIR VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser technology) from Osram, offering enhanced eye safety, outstanding performance in high sunlight environments, and skin detection capability, which is of critical importance for collision avoidance when, for example humans and industrial robots interact,” he says. “We are excited to partner with Jabil to make the next-generation 3D sensing and machine vision solutions a reality.”

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