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LiDAR sensors used on driverless cars measure the distance to target objects by illuminating them with laser light and measuring the reflected pulses. However, these sensors also have applications in other areas.
Alphabet’s autonomous car division, Waymo, announced in a blog post that it would start selling its custom-designed LiDAR sensors to other companies. According to mashable.com, the company is offering its Laser Bear Honeycomb light-measuring device to car companies, as well as firms in other industries such as robotics, manufacturing, agriculture, security, entertainment, and gaming.
LiDAR sensors form the foundation of a number of autonomous car systems, including those from Uber and Lyft.
Currently, the device sits on the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Widening the scope to include other markets may be an attempt to bring in more revenue.
Venturebeat.com, citing the company, reports that the Laser Bear Honeycomb sensor has several advantages over run-of-the-mill 3D LiDAR sensors. It boasts a vertical field of view of 95 degrees, instead of the standard 30 degrees, and a 360-degree horizontal view. And when it sends out a pulse of light, it can see up to four objects in a laser beam’s line of sight (for example, both the foliage in front of a tree branch and the tree branch itself). Moreover, the LiDAR sensor has a minimum range of zero, meaning it’s able to perceive objects immediately in front of it, enabling capabilities such as near-object detection and avoidance.