Omnidirectional time-of-flight sensor to open up robotics use

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A new time-of-flight depth sensor with a field of view of 360° x 60° has been announced by optical design firm Jabil Optics.

The omnidirectional sensor is designed to support lower-cost autonomous mobile robots and collaborative robots.

Jabil's sensor combines a custom optical assembly with an active illumination. In contrast to conventional time-of-flight cameras, the 360° field of view of Jabil’s sensor means all objects within a robot's path can be tracked. This improves obstacle avoidance and worker safety.

Additionally, Jabil’s use of scene information to control illumination reduces sensor noise while improving both data quality and power management.

The Jabil Optics team is optimising the performance of the sensor to address the needs of the robotics industry. Ian Blasch, senior director of business development at Jabil Optics, said: 'Our design goal is to provide customers with optimal sensor performance in the smallest, lowest cost and lowest power solution possible. Factors such as data formats, on-sensor processing and connectivity are moving targets in the quickly evolving robotics industry. Our beta-testing programme for the omnidirectional sensor will allow us to continue to collect targeted feedback from customers and partners in the robotics ecosystem.'

Donnacha O’Riordan, director of Analog Devices, which assessed the omnidirectional sensor for use with mobile robots, said: 'Jabil’s wide field-of-view depth-sensing approach is opening up new possibilities for human interaction with robots.'

With 170 employees across four locations, Jabil Optics’ designers, engineers and researchers specialise in solving complex optical problems for customers in 3D sensing, augmented and virtual reality, action camera, automotive, industrial and healthcare markets.

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