Autonomous Vehicles Get A Vision Boost From Micro-Mirrors

New and advanced microscanner mirrors are all set to combine with LiDAR to provide autonomous vehicles with exceptional and progressive 3D vision.

James Davis

Fraunhofer Society researchers have developed a new kind of microscanner mirror that integrates with LiDAR for an improved 3D vision for autonomous vehicles.

The MEMS scanner is made of monocrystalline silicon, which has a reflective coating that intensifies the LiDAR’s ranging lasers.

In order to determine the distance to an object accurately, a sensor needs to capture a large amount of light. Through positioning technology integrated into the scanner's chip, the scanner can continuously track which position is being measured and where the mirror directs the laser beam.

According to Dr. Jan Grahmann, “with our technology platform, we’re able to meet design specifications for new microscanners suitable for use with LiDAR”

LiDAR systems are able to scan the surrounding area in three dimensions and therefore detect pedestrians, cyclists or other vehicles.

He adds, "MEMS mirror splits the laser beam in two dimensions and focuses the light on the object that is being measured. By measuring the time of flight of the reflected light, it is also possible to determine the distance to the object as a third dimension.”
(Image credit: Fraunhofer IPMS)

AEye has already implemented the technology for autonomous vehicles. This mirror is included in Fraunhofer IPMS's 4Sight LiDAR sensor, according to the technology firm.

With an operating range ranging from 905nm to 1,550nm, microscanner mirrors operate at wavelengths typical for LiDAR applications. In conjunction with the smart LiDAR sensors from AEye, Grahmann claims that distances of over 200 meters are possible.

He added, "all components can be designed to customer specifications, thereby guaranteeing that they can be integrated in different LiDAR systems. We also develop, for example, MEMS scanners for head-mounted displays and industrial robots.”

Fraunhofer plans to prepare the technology for mass production by producing the microscanner mirrors in large quantities.