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Optical Encoders in LiDAR Sensors

Last updated Dec 21, 2023 | Published on Sep 24, 2020

As autonomous vehicles take the world by storm, Boyd’s optical encoders help make the technology possible.

In a recent blog post, we discussed what optical encoders are and how they are used. An optical encoder is an electro-mechanical component for measuring position, velocity, and acceleration. Boyd’s optical encoder components have been used for years in printers, scanners, medical equipment, and much more. Lately, our optical encoders have found an exciting new application as a vital component in LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors for autonomous vehicles in the eMobility industry.

What is a LiDAR Sensor?

Originally developed in the 1960s for military use, LiDAR sensors use lasers to survey an area and create a 3D representation. They allow for highly accurate readings of distance and motion around the sensor and are commonly used for robotic and artificial intelligence applications.

A LiDAR sensor works by rapidly emitting pulses of light, which bounce off any surrounding objects and return to the sensor. The sensor then calculates the distance from each object in real-time, providing a three-dimensional representation of the surrounding area.

Recently, LiDAR technology has found its way into autonomous vehicles to aid navigation. Typically, the sensors are attached to the top and sides of a vehicle, providing a connected computer with reliable environmental perception and to navigate terrain safely in real-time.


How Do Optical Encoders Make This Possible?

Boyd’s optical encoder disks are placed within each sensor, allowing them to accurately gauge position and rotation when the sensor emits pulses of light. Accurate positioning is crucial for autonomous vehicles, as any error in calculating position can result in inefficiencies or accidents. Most notably, this is used for navigation by analyzing the 3D rendering around the vehicle and adjusting movement accordingly to avoid obstacles. Encoder disks are also used for modifying speed to keep safe distances from other moving objects and to alter course to reduce the severity of an accident should it be unavoidable.

LiDAR sensors are a versatile technology where new applications are frequently being found. Currently, they are used to gather data and create models in a wide variety of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, and forensics. Boyd is excited to provide a crucial piece of this exciting technology. To find out more about optical encoders and their many uses, reach out to our technical experts for a consultation.

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