Sensors & Transducers

Innovative technology revolutionises 3D measurement

October 2023 Sensors & Transducers

From industrial automation to autonomous vehicles to care robots, mastering the challenges of the future will require powerful 3D sensors that capture their surroundings quickly, comprehensively and with millimetre precision. A technological innovation from Pepperl+Fuchs, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT), enables 3D measurement with maximum precision and performance while remaining highly cost-efficient. For the first time, high-performance distance measurement technology is combined with MEMS technology. This forms the basis for the R3000 3D LiDAR/MEMS sensor, which was presented as a product study at Hannover Messe 2023.

Combining the benefits of two technologies

The 3D measurement is based on Pulse Ranging Technology (PRT). This distance measurement method developed by Pepperl+Fuchs can be scaled to meet a wide range of requirements. Based on over 250 000 emitted laser pulses per second, it measures distances from a few centimetres to several hundred metres with millimetre accuracy. Ambient light and other environmental influences are effectively suppressed. As a result, PRT delivers fast, precise and reliable measurement results.

To reach the third dimension, Pepperl+Fuchs combines PRT with a micro-electromechanical system from Fraunhofer for the first time as part of the R3000 product study. A small, economical and mechanically robust MEMS mirror is integrated into the sensor. Through the motion of the piezoelectrically-driven element, the emitted laser beam is deflected in two axes by 40° x 30°. Unlike conventional 3D sensors, no pixel grid is created during the process of measurement. Instead, the R3000 uses a particularly small light spot and continuous scanning to produce ultra-high resolution 3D point clouds with exceptional detail.

Intuitive operation due to intelligent user guidance

To make communication between man and machine as simple as possible, the R3000 is equipped with additional functions. The sensor not only generates a 3D point cloud, but also a superimposed intensity image that can visualise the scene and therefore facilitate programming and operation. In addition, each measurement point can be displayed with a visible laser beam. The synchronous laser projector allows the R3000 to be precisely aligned and adjusted without additional tools, ensuring easy commissioning. This function also enables interaction between the user and the service robot, for example.

Powerful 3D measurement for the automation of the future

With its innovative technology, the R3000 LiDAR/MEMS sensor heralds a revolution in solving complex automation tasks. Precise 3D images of unknown environments are essential for the next generation of autonomous driving − from driverless transport systems in industry to automated transport of patients in retirement and nursing homes.

With the combination of PRT and MEMS, such complex, dynamic scenes can be captured in detail in real time. This creates a comprehensive database for completely new evaluations using artificial intelligence tools. As a compact and cost-effective sensor, the R3000 will make high-precision 3D measurements available for a vast range of applications. In combination with advanced algorithms, the sensor will significantly drive development in the field of autonomous vehicles and service robotics, not only in manufacturing plants, hospitals or nursing homes, but in all areas of life.

Highlights of the R3000 are:

• Innovative product study enables the compact and cost-effective R3000 LiDAR/MEMS sensor to make detailed 3D measurements by combining two high-performance technologies.

• Pulse Ranging Technology (PRT) for reliable, precise and scalable distance measurement.

• MEMS mirror for continuous scans and ultra-high resolution 3D point clouds.

• Detailed capture of complex, dynamic scenes in real time for all applications from automated guided vehicles to service robots.


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