The new technique deals with how the laser changes its frequency so it can determine the distance between reflected light and outgoing light. The new design combines the device’s semiconductor laser with its mirror, and now it can be powered by an AA battery.
The tech can do a sweep as short as a few hundred nanoseconds, which means that the technology could be used to do 3D image capture in real-time.
LIDAR is a core tech for unmanned vehicles, so improving the laser abilities could have a big impact relatively soon. “The advance could shrink components that now take up the space of a shoebox down to something compact and lightweight enough for smartphones or small UAVs,” the lead researcher said.