13 January 2021
ams introduces VCSEL IR emitters for industrial mass-market 2D/3D sensing
High-performance sensor designer and manufacturer ams AG of Premstaetten, Austria has introduced the EGA2000 family of infrared vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) flood illuminators, which can help industrial manufacturers to develop new applications for robots, cobots (collaborative robots), autonomous guided vehicles (AGV) and smart devices that perform 2D and 3D optical sensing.
With everything including VCSEL and diffuser managed in-house by ams for tight quality control and supply-chain management on key components, the new flood illuminators provide uniform, tightly controlled and high-output power illumination, says ams. This is essential for evolving applications using ranging, object detection and face recognition, which use 2D and even the more sophisticated 3D sensing techniques based on time-of-flight (ToF) or stereo vision (SV).
The implementation of 3D sensing was pioneered in mobile phones, where it is used for secure face recognition. It is now emerging in the industrial mass market as a technique for applications such as:
- object dimension detection in robotics;
- 3D mapping of the environment supporting the operation of AGVs (including automatic vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers);
- face recognition in industrial systems such as e-payment kiosks and smart locks; and
- night-vision cameras.
“The rate of innovation in markets such as logistics and warehousing, home and building automation, and Industry 4.0 is remarkable,” says Markus Luidolt, senior marketing director for 3D Sensing Modules and Solutions at ams. “A mass market is emerging for new product categories such as home cleaning robots, cobots to assist human factory operators, and AGVs to replace conventional forklift trucks in warehouses,” he adds. “The superior optical performance of the EGA2000 family and the range of options which it provides will help industrial companies to achieve more reliable ranging and depth mapping, speeding the go-to-market with fewer design iterations and less system debugging. Furthermore, to support customers’ R&D investments in industrial products serving a wide range of challenging applications, the EGA product family is designed for long-term availability.”
Uniform, precisely shaped beam
The optical performance of the EGA2000 flood illuminators is a feature of the integrated ams IR emitter architecture. Matching the micro-optics to suit the characteristics of the VCSEL emitter, the EGA2000 illuminators produce a uniform beam, which has a homogeneous rectangular profile. This tightly controlled illumination profile and field of illumination (FoI) match the field of view of the IR image sensors used in 2D and 3D ranging and detection systems, increasing the strength and integrity of the reflected optical signal, says ams.
Range of product options
The EGA2000 family of illuminators offers two wavelength options:
- 850nm for systems requiring maximum sensitivity; and
- 940nm for easier compliance with eye-safety regulations (superior rejection of sunlight interference also makes the 940nm illuminators suitable for use outdoors).
Each wavelength option is also available in one of three beam configurations:
- ultra-wide FoI – suitable for obstacle avoidance in robotics, and people-counting applications;
- wide FoI – used in machine-vision systems such as volume measurement in logistics systems; and
- narrow FoI – for use cases such as contour measurements and allowing long-range measurement.
The EGA2000 flood illuminators are available now for sampling, targeting mass production by second-quarter 2021. An evaluation kit will be available in the coming weeks.