SPIDAR: Bay Photonics packaging quantum photonic components integrated into imaging systems for autonomous vehicles
Bay Photonics are partner in the Innovate UK funded project “Single Photon Infrared Imaging, Detection and Ranging” (SPIDAR), that will develop novel range-finding and 3D imaging systems for driver assistance in the autonomous vehicles of the future.
The cameras are based on detecting single photons (light particles) in the infra-red region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Depth information is gained by measuring the time-of-flight of the photons from the illuminating laser, to the object and back to the photon detector in the camera with sub-nanosecond precision. By detecting single photons, the faintest possible light signals, cameras that can ‘see’ further than the 3D cameras available today will be possible.
Such systems are essential to ensure safety under all lighting and weather conditions, such as strong sunlight, whiteout blizzard conditions as well as driving rain. The choice of infra-red illuminating laser will ensure greater penetration through obscurants such as rain, fog, dust & sand as well as ensuring eye-safe operation.
During the project, single photon avalanche photodiodes (SPADs) will be developed in both single pixel format and 2D array format for low light detection. Also, diode laser arrays will be developed in the infra-red band for illumination. Bay Photonics, experts in photonics, will be providing expertise in packaging of both the SPAD quantum detectors as well as the diode arrays.
The SPIDAR project started on 1st September 2020 and runs for 3 years until 31st August 2023. The project, with a total budget of £5.7M, is led by Toshiba Research Europe Ltd and other partners include Thales, Horiba MIRA, IQE, Jaguar-Land Rover, Network Rail as well as Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Heriot-Watt Universities.
Poised to be the ideal choice for high-level Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), the LIDAR market, currently worth $1B, is set to explode in the coming years with reports estimating a CAGR of 20-30% over the next 5 years with over 70% of the market dedicated to automotive applications.