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Highly Sensitive LiDAR System Enhances Autonomous Driving Vision


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Illustration of LiDAR sensing around an auto (in blue).

Engineers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia developed a light-detecting device that could substantially improve the vision of self-driving cars, robots, and digital mapping technologies.

Credit: 3alexd/iStock

A Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia can enhance weak signals reflected off faraway objects.

A new avalanche photodiode the researchers developed can amplify the photoelectric effect for light detection via a staircase-like alignment.

The researchers said its greater light sensitivity enabled it to generate a more comprehensive perspective for a car's onboard computers, while also removing noise.

The engineers intend to integrate the new device with an avalanche photodiode they invented last year to capture near-infrared light, for greater accuracy in fiber-optic communications and thermal imaging.

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