Kronos is a 1550nm all-fiber laser source made with self-driving vehicle LIDARs in mind. If you look at the first generation light sources for lidar systems, 904nm pulsed lasers were also in consideration. We know now that they will never meet the range and resolution capacity necessary for long range systems in self driving vehicles. The problems theses sources face is their low spatial and angular resolution, limited range, and the very important fact that they are not eye safe for anything other than low resolution or short range application. As of their pro’s… well, they are cheap and compact.
Why is 1.5um LIDAR the way to go? And why is the industry moving towards that?
There are a lot of reasons to focus on 1550nm fiber lasers. It provides a long range and better resolution with a diffraction-limited output beam and is most importantly eye safe, this wavelength being orders of magnitude safer than 9XXnm. While the 1550nm types of sources are still in development and are a little less compact, we are still early in the product life cycle, and we’re only at the start of great new innovations.
Our Kronos lidar source is the most reliable to produce the best and safest lidar system.
If you don’t choose the right lidar laser source, you simply won’t meet requirements of the auto industry, or any practical long-range application for that matter. It won’t be eye safe and it might not survive real life harsh environments. It’s very easy to overlook specs, especially when cost is important, but:
Can you detect a pedestrian a few blocks away?
Can you detect small obstacles? For example, the classic “tire on the road” scenario?
Do you have sufficient power margin to operate in rain, fog or snow?
In the end, a LIDAR system needs to produce the image to make the right decision, every time. For that, you need the right DATA (beam divergence, pixels per frame, frame rate), and only a high performance fiber laser source at 1550nm will give you all that at the same time.
Kronos light sources are fundamentally single mode, which means diffraction limited beam divergence. You can readily produce 0.1 or below degree divergence with small, low cost collimator optics.
Typical multi junction laser diodes produce around 100W peak power, and the drivers have slow risetimes, fiber lasers can readily produce kW of peak power with sub nanosecond risetimes, as a plus they are flexible, and pulse width and shape can be tailored ‘ on the fly’ via software to your requirements.
The automotive industry demands the reliable detection of a tire or muffler on the road at a minimum distance of 60m, to achieve good discrimination of these targets from the road requires a beam divergence of 0.1 degrees or less, otherwise the spot size will be larger than the target! The reflectivity of a tire can be as low as 5%, reliably detecting this at 60m requires 100’s of W of peak power.