Time-of-flight sensor enables multi-object ranging

1 min read

STMicroelectronics has extended the capabilities of its FlightSense ToF ranging sensors by introducing the VL53L3CX with patented histogram algorithms that allow measuring distances to multiple objects as well as increasing accuracy.

According to ST, the device is able to measures object ranges from 2.5cm to 3m, unaffected by the target colour or reflectance, unlike conventional infrared sensors. As a result, designers will be able to introduce a range of new features to their products, such as enabling occupancy detectors to provide error-free sensing by ignoring unwanted background or foreground objects, or reporting the exact distances to multiple targets within the sensor’s field-of-view.

The patented histogram algorithms added by ST, are intended to increase cover-glass crosstalk immunity and allow real-time smudge compensation preventing external contamination from adversely affecting the ranging accuracy of, for example, vacuum cleaners or equipment that may be used in a dusty industrial environment. Ranging under ambient lighting is also improved.

In addition, the VL53L3CX has improved linearity that increases short-distance measurement accuracy enhancing wall tracking, faster cliff detection, and obstacle avoidance in equipment such as service robots and vacuum cleaners, markets in which ST has had a degree of commercial success. Like all FlightSense sensors, the VL53L3CX features a compact, all-in-one package design that eases integration in customer devices, as well as low power consumption that helps extend battery runtime.

ToF sensing is able to bring improved levels of performance to a wide variety of applications, including more reliable occupancy detection in building-automation and lighting controllers, smarter proximity sensing in IoT endpoints, more convenient auto-wakeup in portable devices, and more robust user detection in automatic sanitary equipment. Their high accuracy and fast response times, mean that ToF sensors are able to enhance the performance of all devices requiring precise movement control, typically robotics and indoor drones.