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9 December, 2022

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Vision sensor has a 1km range – ‘the world’s longest’

31 August, 2022

A Californian company has announced a machine vision sensor that, it claims, can operate over a range of more than 1km – further than any other device of its type. SiLC Technologies says that its “4D+” Eyeonic vision sensor can perceive, identify and avoid objects over long distances, with potential applications including robotics, autonomous vehicles, biometrics, security, industrial automation, warehousing and drones.

The company, formed in 2018, has already attracted more than $30m of funding from backers including Dell, Sony and Epson. It says that its mission is to enable machines to see like humans.

Current 3D vision systems rely on high-power lasers operating on the 905nm wavelength, used with sensitive detectors in time-of-flight (ToF) technologies. Although they have performed “adequately”, according to SiLC, their costly assembly has limited their resolution and cost-effective scaling. Also worries over eye safety have restricted their range, while crosstalk between applications could hamper their wider use.

To overcome the eye safety issues and to allow large-scale use with minimal interference between different applications, SiLC advocates moving to a LiDar (light detection and ranging) technology known as frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW), that operates on the 1550nm wavelength. However, widespread use of this technology has been limited to date by its high cost and the large number of components it needs.

SiLC believes it has solved these issues by integrating all of the components – including lasers and detectors – onto a single silicon chip, resulting in a compact, low-cost and low-power vision technology. It says that it represents the future of LiDar technology in which safety, performance and range are improved “dramatically”, while the integrated design results in a compact, low-cost machine vision systems.

The technology’s ability to measure velocity instantaneously will allow it to measure and diagnose objects in motion, as well as detecting and analysing movements of humans. The sensors are claimed to work without interference under any lighting condition, or where there are multiple applications operating in the same area.

SiLC’s Eyeonic chip integrates all of the functions needed for a vision sensor, offering a tiny footprint while addressing the needs for low cost and low power

When used in autonomous vehicles, the technology will give them enough time to evade obstacles at highway speeds. It will also allow drones to avoid others in the sky.

“Our technology platform is flexible enough to address ultra-long-range to ultra-short-range applications, which speaks to our understanding of what is needed to truly make machine vision as good or better than human vision,” says SiLC’s founder and CEO, Dr Mehdi Asghari. “The highly detailed, accurate instantaneous velocity and ultra-long-range information that our Eyeonic vision sensor is the key to helping robots classify and predict their environment – in the same way that the human eye and brain process together.”

SiLC TechnologiesLinkedIn




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