IEEE Washington/NoVA Sensor Council Chapter seminar
LADAR and its applications to robotic/autonomous vehicle sensor systems: status, innovations, and outlook
Dr. Michael Powers
Senior Engineering Specialist
VASQ Hamilton 678
Ballston Conference Center
3811 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 600
Arlington VA 22203
(paid parking is available in the rear of the building)
LADAR, also known as LIDAR or Laser RADAR, is an active imaging technique applied to remote sensing. As an extension of RADAR to optical frequencies, it enables 3D imaging with high range and cross-range resolution. Although it originated soon after the invention of the laser, it remains a vibrant area of research and an emerging sensor technology.
This talk begins with an introduction to LADAR and an overview of its many variations and applications. The emphasis turns to autonomous vehicle / robotic applications, where LADAR is often an essential sensor for real-time perception and navigation. The perception requirements for autonomous vehicles are demanding and seldom satisfied by off-the-shelf sensors. State-of-the-art perception systems usually combine data from several disparate sensors, but this approach has significant drawbacks. Spectral LADAR, which is to be described in detail, was developed to overcome the limitations of the data fusion approach by unifying time-of-flight ranging and active multispectral imaging based on a supercontinuum optical transmitter. The 3D spatial and multispectral capability of Spectral LADAR is well suited to imaging in complex and cluttered environments, thereby enabling high-fidelity world models to drive sophisticated autonomous operations. Results from a variety of scenes will be presented to illustrate its advantages relative to alternative methods including sensor data fusion. The experimental results obtained with a laboratory prototype point to additional imaging applications where combined spatial and spectral information is valuable.
The scope broadens to consider recent advances in optical devices and signal processing that have the potential to radically alter the landscape of optical imaging systems. The talk concludes with a forecast of how these developments will influence the evolution of LADAR systems beyond historical and contemporary architectures.
Michael Powers is a Senior Member of the IEEE and Senior Engineering Specialist at General Dynamics. His recent work has involved the development of new optical systems for robotic perception on several Army, Navy, and DARPA programs. He earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Powers is currently the perception area task lead of the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA) and a Visiting Scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, MD.