Photonics/Optics

New Navigation Software Cuts Self-Driving Car Costs

A new software system developed at the University of Michigan uses video game technology to help solve one of the most daunting hurdles facing self-driving and automated cars: the high cost of the laser scanners they use to determine their location.Ryan Wolcott, a U-M doctoral candidate in computer science and engineering, estimates that the new concept could shave thousands of dollars from the cost of these vehicles. The technology enables them to navigate using a single video camera, delivering the same level of accuracy as laser scanners at a fraction of the cost."The laser scanners used by most self-driving cars in development today cost tens of thousands of dollars, and I thought there must be a cheaper sensor that could do the same job," he said. "Cameras only cost a few dollars each and they're already in a lot of cars. So they were an obvious choice."Wolcott's system builds on the navigation systems used in other self-driving cars that are currently in development, including Google's vehicle. The navigation systems use three-dimensional laser scanning technology to create a real-time map of their environment, then compare that real-time map to a pre-drawn map stored in the system. By making thousands of comparisons per second, they are able to determine the vehicle's location within a few centimeters.The software converts the map data into a three-dimensional picture much like a video game. The car's navigation system can then compare these synthetic pictures with the real-world pictures streaming in from a conventional video camera.SourceAlso: See more Software tech briefs.

Posted in: Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Software, News, Automotive

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Technology Diagnoses Brain Damage from Concussions, Strokes, and Dementia

New optical diagnostic technology developed at Tufts University School of Engineering promises new ways to identify and monitor brain damage resulting from traumatic injury, stroke, or vascular dementia in real time and without invasive procedures.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Electronic Components, Photonics, Fiber Optics, Optics, Medical, Diagnostics, Test & Measurement, Measuring Instruments, Semiconductors & ICs, News

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New Serenity Payload Detects Hostile Fire

Two government-developed sensors are working together to increase the security of deployed soldiers. The Firefly and Serenity sensors employ government developed algorithms, software, and hardware to locate hostile fire around a base. The technology, a joint effort between the Army Aviation Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, and the Army Research Lab, referred to as ARL, has been under development for more than a decade.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Cameras, Imaging, Photonics, Optics, Sensors, Detectors, Defense, News

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Design of High-Brightness, Fiber-Coupled Diode Laser Modules

In the past decade, diode lasers have made great strides in both power and reliability. The performance improvements have enabled new applications, particularly in areas where optical brightness is a key performance metric. The fiber-coupled diode pumping of fiber lasers is a critical technology in commercial, industrial and defense applications. Materials processing, once the singular province of fiber lasers, can now be addressed in some respects by diode laser beams directly delivered by optical fiber.

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Articles

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SPIE Photonics West 2015 Preview

The SPIE Photonics West 2015 technical conference and exhibition, taking place February 7-12 at The Moscone Center in San Francisco, offers attendees the opportunity to learn about the latest technological developments in lasers, photonics, optics, optoelectronics, biophotonics, biomedical optics, 3D printing and more. Incorporating BiOS, the world’s largest biomedical optics conference, the event will offer its anticipated 20,000 attendees the opportunity to access roughly 4700 technical papers and view the products and services of more than 1250 exhibitors over the course of a week (http://spie.org/photonics-west.xml).

Posted in: Features, Photonics, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Optical Components, Articles

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Fabricating Custom Components from Stock Optics

Two quantities are perennially in short supply on engineering projects: time and money. When it comes to producing custom optical components in less time, for less money, one feasible approach is to modify off-the-shelf components to meet customers’ unique requirements. This tactic is particularly valuable in the prototyping stage or for one-of-a-kind instruments, when a full production run would be unjustifiably expensive and take an unreasonably long time.

Posted in: Applications, Photonics, Optical Components, Articles, Application Briefs

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Active Layer Optimization in Ultra-Thin, Surface-Parallel, Deformable Mirrors

This method enables low-cost, lightweight, active mirrors with a large dynamic range and improved actuation characteristics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A design methodology was developed that optimizes the performance of active mirrors. Patterns of parameterized ellipsoidal actuators are overlaid onto the mirror, and then numerically optimized to improve performance of the mirror in optical modes that are typically difficult to correct, while also improving performance in other optical modes.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Articles, Briefs

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