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Radar sensor gauges micron distances in tough locations

12 January, 2022

A German start-up company called Ondosense has launched a radar-based sensor for measuring distances which, it claims, is the most precise and fastest on the market, with the widest measuring range and the smallest blind range. The OndoSense apex sensor promises accuracies of up to 1µm, a sensing range of 0.1-50m, and high (300Hz) operating frequencies. The lens of has an opening angle of just 4 degrees, ensuring reliable measurements using a tiny measuring spot.

Ondosense says that the device will measure reliably even in challenging industrial environments where dirt, smoke, steam or oil mist may be present, or where the lighting conditions are difficult – such as low or flashing lighting. With an IP67/69K dustproof and jet water-proof housing and a tough PTFE lens, the radar can be used in arduous environments. The heavy-duty housing can be water-cooled, while a compressed air supply protects against heat or dirt.

Potential applications include: distance and dimension measurements; presence control; positioning of objects hidden by packaging or plastic sheets; detecting obstacles to avoid collisions; and precision positioning of machines in several dimensions.

The narrow sensing angle is said to differentiate the sensor from rival products. “Many providers of radar sensors are trying to narrow down the opening angle on the software side,” explains OndoSense’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Dr Axel Hülsmann. “Our customised lens meets the desire of many customers for focused measurements with a small opening angle and a maximum of precision and measuring frequency. If necessary, a sensor variant with a very wide opening angle is also available – for collision-avoidance applications, for example.”

Browser-based configuration software makes it easy to commission the sensors. The software can be used to visualise the reflections (peaks) of the radar signal. Smart “peak selection” algorithms allow users to select desired target objects and hide others. The peaks can be sorted by signal strength or distance. In addition, dynamic or linear thresholds can be defined.

The OndonSense radar sensor’s narrow beam angle allows it to check whether items are present in boxes moving along a production line

Built-in interfaces for transmitting data the machine controllers include IO-Link, RS-485, 4–20mA and three digital switching outputs (PNP/NPN).

Freiburg-based OndoSense was founded in 2018 by two radar experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF.

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