The purpose of this paper is to describe a new proved multi-channel laser-radar technology which enables several thousands of high-sensitive laser-radar or lidar receivers to be integrated on a fingernail-sized CMOS-chip for fast 3D-perception and, furthermore, to explain the huge number of resulting applications and to estimate the desirable scientific, economic and society impacts.
These extraordinary capabilities rely on the revolutionary improvements introduced by a smart inherently-mixing photodiode with two controllable photo-current outputs . We call it PMD (Photonic Mixer Device) because the opto-electronic mixing process is accomplished directly in the photonic state, followed by an integration process to get OE-correlation and the delay of the optical echo and the modulation signal.
The PMD-principle provides an unbelievable simplification, size-reduction and improvement in Multi-Channel Light Detecting and Ranging as a MC-PMD-Lidar or 3D-PMD-camera without scanner. Thanks to the competence and merit of the PMDTechnologies GmbH in cooperation with the INV of the University of Siegen finally brought the PMD in big steps to reliability and to large pixel numbers and to products with today about 20.000 lidar receivers in a 120x160 PMD-matrix, which exhibits homogenous and exquisite specifications like very constant mean value and low standard deviation compared with conventional radar receivers.
This innovation may be seen as a breakthrough in the history of camera development. The "3D-camera" of today comprises more 3D-pixels in a PMD-array than, about 1970, the first CCD-cameras contained 2D-pixel in a CCD-array. Both are of similar size aside from the modulated sender with integrated LED's or laser diodes required for a homogenous illumination of the field-of-view.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.