Toyota Prototypes Laser Radar for Autonomous Driving, Etc

Mar 20, 2014
Tsuneyuki Miyake, Nikkei Electronics
The polygon mirror (top) and the light-receiving chip (data prepared by Toyota Central R&D Labs for its lecture at the 61st JSAP Spring Meeting)
The polygon mirror (top) and the light-receiving chip (data prepared by Toyota Central R&D Labs for its lecture at the 61st JSAP Spring Meeting)
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc developed a system that can be installed in a vehicle and three-dimensionally recognize pedestrians, other vehicles, structures, etc around the vehicle by using near-infrared laser radar.

Toyota Central R&D Labs announced the results of an experiment in which a prototype of the system was tested at the 61st JSAP Spring Meeting, which runs from March 17 to 20, 2014, in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan (lecture number: 17p-E9-5). The company confirmed that the prototype can detect a board looking like a human from a distance of 80m.

Laser radar is expected to become one of the most important systems to realize autonomous driving and ACC (adaptive cruise control). It three-dimensionally recognizes pedestrians, vehicles, roads, terrains, etc in real time by using a laser light and its reflection.

However, only a limited number of products are available. And, in many of the tests of autonomous driving conducted by various companies, Velodyne Lidar Inc's laser radar has been used. Toyota Central R&D Labs also conducted a research on a next-generation driving system by using Velodyne's laser radar.

This time, Toyota Central R&D Labs employed a system that scans an 870nm near-infrared laser light with a six-facet polygon mirror for the experiment. The mirror is used both for emitting the light of the laser diode but for light-path control aimed at receiving light reflected from objects with photo diodes.

The reflected light is received by a special chip developed by the company to obtain 2D images. Distance information is collected with the ToF (time of flight) method, which is used for gesture recognition, etc. The chip is equipped with 96 x 202 light-receiving elements, and light is received by a facet of the polygon mirror (16 x 202 elements).

A round of the mirror corresponds to a frame of video. The frame frequency is 10Hz.