SBIR Phase II: Resonant Light Detection and Ranging

Period of Performance: 09/15/2017 - 08/31/2019

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Z-senz LLC
67 Oak Shade Rd Array
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop a resonant light detection and ranging (R-LIDAR) distance sensor based upon use of an optomechanical beam scanning element actuated at resonant frequency. The broader impact of this project is to commercialize distance sensing instrumentation that advances the development of robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) by providing improved performance and order-of-magnitudes reduction in sensor size and cost. The development of RAS technologies could benefit society by increasing the productivity of economic activities in industries that include: mining, oil and gas, transportation, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, forestry, and defense. These industries are commercially significant and accounted for 24% of US GDP in 2015. Upon development, the R-LIDAR system is expected to make a commercial impact in a total addressable market for light detection and ranging (LIDAR) distance sensors that is expected to reach $739 million/year by 2018. Successful development of the R-LIDAR instrument will also pioneer opportunities for resonant scanning instrumentation in related optical applications that include microscopy, endoscopy, light machining, and display. Resonant beam scanners provide robust high-speed and high-performance operation that address size, weight, and power (SWAP) consumption limitations in state of the art light LIDAR distance sensors. The key outcome of the SBIR Phase I project was the successful integration of a resonant optomechanical element into an R-LIDAR distance sensor, demonstrating a 125 X 125 pixel field-of-view acquired at a 20 Hz frame rate. The SBIR Phase II project seeks to advance R-LIDAR instrumentation through (1) development of low-SWAP robust scanning elements, (2) techniques and instrumentation that allow for improved signal to noise ratio and high-rate data acquisition from pulsed time-of-flight LIDAR sensors, and (3) increased ranging capability of low-SWAP R-LIDAR instrumentation. Successful completion of these technical objectives will result in a distance sensing technology that will be particularly useful for high-accuracy surveying and inspection applications conducted using small unmanned aircraft system (S-UAS), where size and payload constraints are acute.