January 03, 2019

Zemax customer Ouster patents new multi-beam flash lidar

Zemax customer Ouster patents new multi-beam flash lidar

Zemax customer Ouster, a manufacturer of high-resolution lidar sensors, created and patented a new lidar category: multi-beam flash lidar. What’s so promising about this unique 3D sensing technology is that it solves many issues manufacturers currently face in getting lidar for autonomous vehicles and other uses to market fast and at a reasonable cost. Ouster used OpticStudio to help create its sensors and lasers that operate in a near-infrared light spectrum.

“OpticStudio was a critical software in the development of our multi-beam flash lidar,” said Ouster Co-Founder and CTO Mark Frichtl. “Our team took advantage of all the design, optimization, and tolerancing tools OpticStudio has to offer, and the software helped us get to the finish line faster.”

Ouster multi-beam flash lidar: overcoming challenges

To date, the two main challenges of incorporating lidar systems into self-driving cars were that: 1) the systems were expensive and 2) the sensors failed in the field too frequently. According to the company, Ouster’s OS-1 64 sensor costs nearly 85 percent less than competing sensors for high resolution results. It’s smaller in size and weight with a simplified architecture that makes it far more durable.

“Multi-beam” and “flash” defined

With Ouster’s new technology, “flash” refers to the idea that every pixel in the sensor is illuminated by the laser and actively collecting light simultaneously like a camera with a flash. “Multi-beam” refers to the fact that the scene is illuminated with precision beams of light instead of a flood. According to Ouster, “The flood illumination in a conventional flash lidar, while simpler to develop, wastes laser power on locations the detectors aren’t looking. By sending out precision beams only where our detectors are looking, we achieve a major efficiency improvement over a conventional flash lidar.”
Visit the Ouster blog for an in-depth look at its exciting new technology >

Getting lidar to market faster with Zemax Virtual Prototyping

Zemax Virtual Prototyping offers a quick and efficient way to explore existing solutions and identify new solutions for lidar that can be mass produced. With lidar, it’s critical to understand both the optics and the optomechanics, as well as the system performance under nominal or ideal conditions as well as as-built. OpticStudio allows optical designers to do everything they need to, including simulating environmental effects, optimizing transmitter and receiver optics, optical tolerancing, sensitivity analysis, inverse sensitivity analysis, and optimizing full system performance. LensMechanix can be used to import the design directly into SOLIDWORKS or Creo Parametric, with no need to convert files for CAD. With LensMechanix, optomechanical engineers can simulate the impact of mechanical designs on optical performance. Lidar is an important component for autonomous vehicles as we move from level zero to level five of autonomy. The cost of lidar systems is going to be driven in part by the ability to get these systems into mass production—and with exciting new technologies like Ouster’s multi-beam flash lidar, we are getting closer every day.


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