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Image: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

To enable safe and affordable autonomous vehicles, the automotive industry needs lidar systems that are around the size of a wallet, cost one hundred dollars, and can see targets at long distances with high resolution. With the support of DARPA, our team at Kyber Photonics, in Lexington, Mass., is advancing the next generation of lidar sensors by developing a new solid-state, lidar-on-a-chip architecture that was recently demonstrated at MIT. The technology has an extremely wide field of view, a simplified control approach compared to the state-of-the-art designs, and has the promise to scale to millions of units via the wafer-scale fabrication methods of the integrated photonics industry.

 

Light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors hold great promise for allowing autonomous machines to see and navigate the world with very high precision. But current technology suffers from several drawbacks that need to be addressed before widespread adoption can occur. Lidar sensors provide spatial information by scanning an optical beam, typically in the wavelength range between 850 and 1550 nm, and using the reflected optical signals to build a three-dimensional map of an area of interest. They complement cameras and radar by providing high resolution and unambiguous ranging and velocity information under both daytime and nighttime conditions.

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Photo: Christie’s Photographic Solutions
IEEE COVID-19 coverage logo, link to landing page

THE INSTITUTE As 2020 draws to a close, I look back on my year as IEEE president and marvel at what have been 12 world-changing, paradigm-shifting months. Throughout this period one thing became quite apparent: IEEE is more than just our technical conferences, publications, and standards. IEEE is a vibrant, engaged, international community growing every year and contributing more diverse, insightful, and essential work than ever before. This year our community has come together in new ways, faced the challenges of a global pandemic, and emerged even stronger.

The year demonstrated the impact that professional engineers and technologists have had on society. We have witnessed amazing engineering developments and important medical and technological breakthroughs. We have stayed connected and engaged, leveraging computing and communications to allow critical work to continue while keeping individuals and families safe. The challenges and changes we have witnessed in local communities, across nations, and around the world confirm that the work of professional engineers, technologists, educators, young professionals, and students preparing for technical careers will continue to be in high demand and have a great impact.

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