Britta Grennberg Fismen
An ultrasonic 3D distance sensor for autonomousrobots
Sonair AS is developing a new product family of 3D distance sensors. For robots that interact with humans, it is critical and enabling that the robot has reliable control of its surroundings in all possible directions of movement. Our sensor will make it possible to develop cost-effective autonomous robots that can safely work alongside humans or be positioned near humans. We call this new sensor type ADAR™ (Acoustic Detection And Ranging).
ADAR™ has only recently become possible to realize using MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical System)-based ultrasound transducers. In air, commercial ultrasound transducers are too large to obtain the fundamental half-wavelength element spacing needed. SINTEF has over the last decade worked to scale down ultrasound transducers by using a MEMS technology called PMUT (Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer).
The imaging method is called software beamforming, used both in SONAR , RADAR, and medical ultrasound. Beamforming is to steer the signals received and/or transmitted on/from an array into a certain direction or location. Recent hardware developments have allowed the implementation of beamforming on received signals as a post-processing method; software beamforming. Using this, the sensor system will provide 3D distance information in real-time.
We will present status one year after starting the company and our ambitions for the future.