QUEBEC CITY. Robota engineers in Lancaster, Texas, needed an altimeter for the company’s Eclipse fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also commonly known as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or drone, for professional surveying applications. They found their solution at LeddarTech, a provider of solid-state LiDAR solutions in Quebec, Canada.
Robota enginers selected the LeddarOne optical sensor to provide the UAV’s autopilot with the precise, real-time, height-above-ground-level measurements required during the sensitive landing phase.
"Finding a small sensor with sufficient range and precision that would work in a variety of outdoor conditions turned out to be very challenging," says Antonio Liska, Robota's president. "When selecting an altimeter for the Eclipse, we considered many criteria including size, power consumption, detection range, refresh rate, and reliable detection on targets in various conditions, including snow.”
Benchmarked with other ranging technologies as part of a thorough evaluation process, LeddarOne’s range and environmental durability proved to be superior to ultrasonic sensors, and outperformed optical flow sensors, which couldn't compete with the accuracy and speed of the LeddarOne, officials explain. The LeddarOne also outperformed competing LiDAR solutions to which it was compared.
Robota's engineers concluded that the LeddarOne's use of a diffuse infra-red LED source, instead of a narrow-beam collimated laser, delivered superior performance.
The sensor's wide light beam, coupled with its proprietary digital signal accumulation and oversampling, helps smoothen the terrain measurements and provides consistent readings, especially in cases of flying over brush, bushes, or tall grass. In comparison, other LiDARs using collimated laser beams tended to return variations in altitude, which may be unwanted and can mislead the auto-pilot. The LeddarOne also demonstrated the required measurement rates and efficient data transmission, which are paramount when landing a drone that is descending at five meters per second.
Introduced in 2016, the custom-made Eclipse UAV is an advanced mapping system that can cover nearly 400 acres per 50-minute flight and capture high resolution images with on-board cameras. Its applications include agriculture, construction, mining, and urban analysis.
LeddarOne is a very compact, high-performance optical sensor module that is entirely dedicated to a single point measurement. This fixed-beam LiDAR solution can be used in various types of drones, including multi-rotors, for altimetry applications. Other models of Leddar sensors, such as the multi-segment LeddarVu, cater to other drone navigation applications, including collision avoidance.
Robota develops autopilots and drones in the U.S.A. for use in commercial applications. The company was founded in 2011 and began development on the Goose autopilot, which is featured in the Eclipse flying wing mapping drone. Robota's goal is to help organizations improve their data collection and solve complex problems with UAV systems.
LeddarTech is the developer of Leddar, a proprietary LiDAR sensing technology that constitutes a cutting-edge approach in object detection and ranging. Developed over 10+ years of R&D, Leddar is a combination of advanced light wave signal processing and software algorithms that enables the development of highly customizable and cost-effective sensing devices for multiple markets including automotive, drones, intelligent transport systems (ITS), and industrial automation. LeddarTech is a spin-off of Canada's optics and photonics institute, INO.
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