While self-driving cars have yet to take over the road as promised years ago, the tech that could make that possible is getting us ever closer to the goal. And it has created lots of other possible uses for the technology. The Oregon-based developer PreAct Technologies is at the forefront of this emerging technology with its T30P flash LiDAR (which stands for Light Detection and Ranging). PreAct’s sensor creates 3D maps of objects in its immediate area using two cameras and infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs). These LEDs are much like the emitters in a standard TV remote control.
So what’s so special about flash LiDAR? For starters, flash is cheaper to produce than a laser-based LiDAR, which is now commonly used for systems in autonomous vehicles. An LED-based LiDAR could cost about $100 each when produced in volume, while laser-based LiDAR can cost up to ten times that amount. Then there’s PreAct’s T30P’s quick response time, processing data in the device rather than sending it up to the cloud. Add in over-the-air software updates, which PreAct says can last the life of a vehicle, and it’s hard to see how autonomous vehicles don’t move toward LEDs.
Ian Riches, a VP at the market research firm Strategy Analytics, says, “There is a pressing need for better, faster, and more affordable LiDAR solutions to further advance the development and adoption of ADAS [advanced driver assistance systems] and autonomous driving features and functionality. What I’ve seen from PreAct so far is very promising, and I expect we’ll see quite a few more customer announcements in the coming year.”
What could some of those announcements be? While initially created for autonomous vehicles, the T30P flash LiDAR could have any number of health-tech applications, including fall detection, remote patient monitoring, and self-driving wheelchairs. PreAct CEO Paul Drysch says, “We have multiple production projects in the works, and this is just the beginning of a period of rapid growth for our company.” These projects extend to the trucking, robotics, and building maintenance industries, with a range of consumer electronics on deck.