Infineon presents advanced technology for next-generation smart robots

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Working in collaboration with device manufacturer OMS and pmdtechnologies, a specialist in Time of Flight (ToF) technology, Infineon Technologies has developed a new high-resolution camera solution.

Designed to enable enhanced depth sensing and 3D scene understanding for next-generation smart consumer robots, the new hybrid Time of Flight (hToF) solution has combined two depth sensing concepts and will help to significantly reduce maintenance effort and costs for smart robots.

Infineon’s REAL3 flexible ToF imager technology combines established high-resolution iToF flood illumination and dToF long-range spot illumination in a single hybrid Time of Flight camera.

For many years, this high-resolution technology has been used to see the smallest objects in the path of the robot and navigate around them but by adding precise long-range spot data it will now be possible to create an accurate 3D map of the surrounding area for intelligent path planning, even in challenging light conditions of bright sunlight or darkness that empower the next-generation robot vacuum cleaner.

The new solution reduces the height of robot vacuum cleaners by 20-30 percent, fully replacing the top-mounted LDS (Laser Distance Scanner) making it possible to clean even under furniture with low clearance.

Measuring only 31x16x8 mm, the hybrid ToF camera requires much less space for improved mapping and obstacle avoidance functionality. Making multiple sensors redundant, hybrid ToF reduces system costs as well as operation costs, since there are no moving parts that wear out over time.

The compact hybrid ToF solution is said to be versatile and robust and aligns well with the evolving needs of mobile consumer robot devices in various industries such as robot vacuum cleaners, commercial robots, air-purifiers and size measurement.

“The partnership with pmdtechnologies and OMS is a great example of how Infineon fosters technology innovation and digitalisation together,” said Andreas Kopetz, Vice President Ambient Sensing at Infineon. “Our hybrid ToF solution caters to a rapidly expanding consumer robotic market with a wide array of applications and makes it possible for customers to come up with unique robot designs, on top of reduced system costs and complexity by one camera replacing multiple.”

“Infineon and pmdtechnologies’ hybrid ToF adopts an innovative patent architecture and is paired with dual illumination,” explained Eden Xiao, General Manager, Jiangxi OMS Microelectronics. “For a manufacturer like OMS, the solution has exceptional advantages such as small size, low power consumption, and a reduction of overall application cost. We are excited to utilize the unique optical design scheme that avoids multipath problems and achieves a combination of precise positioning and obstacle avoidance, further enhancing the competitiveness of hybrid ToF camera products.”