Photonic sensors – the missing link in autonomous vehicles

Situational awarenessPhotonic sensor will be the eyes, ears and nose of driverless vehicles. The thousands of miles driven by demonstration vehicles show the AI algorithms are ready for the streets, major investment is going into battery and motor technology to make the next generation of vehicles clean.  But driverless vehicles cannot leave the parking lot unless they faultless visualise their surroundings in all conditions and without failure.

The UK has pioneered active and passive optical technology for measuring distance to moving objects ever since Archibald Barr and William Stroud were given a contract by the Admiralty in 1892 for the first optical range finders.  As emphasised by Carol Monaghan, MP in questions to Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, time is ripe to harness the UK extensive capability in imaging and active LiDAR to the unique challenges of size, reliability, cost and functionality posed by enabling autonomous vehicles.

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