Panasonic created a 3D sensor that can detect direction, distance and the floor to help mobile robots move autonomously.
The 3D LiDAR sensor uses laser-scanning at an angle of up to 60 degree vertically and 270 degrees horizontally that senses moving objects like people to help the robot avoid them as well as detects the floor and ground surface conditions to help the robot maneuver indoors and outdoors.
The sensor also provides accurate detection in strong sunlight thanks to noise reduction technology, further enabling outdoor operations. And in busy areas, it can adopt the range and resolution most helpful in the situation.
Similar sensors do not have a wide enough vertical scanning angle to fully detect the ground and need to be combined with other sensors to do so.
“Autonomous robots need to detect the condition of the ground as well as the objects around them since they will be operated inside and [at] outside facilities with many moving objects including people,” the press release says.
The infamous Washington, DC security robot that drowned itself in a fountain exemplifies the need to detect ground conditions. Without the ability to sense the floor, robots can avoid people but not an obstacle located below ground level, like the fountain.
Shipments are expected to begin in January 2018, and the company will exhibit the sensor at at CEATEC Japan 2017 in October.