The VL53L1X time-of-flight (ToF) sensor from STMicroelectronics extends the detection range of ST’s FlightSense technology to four meters (4m). Unlike other proximity sensors that use infrared (Ir) technology, only measure signal strength, and can be affected by the object’s reflectivity, FlightSense sensors directly measure distance to the object based on the time for emitted photons to be reflected, enabling accurate distance-ranging regardless of the object’s surface characteristics.
The device is viable in mobile robotics for wall following, cliff detection, collision avoidance and hover/landing assistance for drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The power-saving presence-detection mode enables auto-sleep/wake-on-approach use cases for PCs, notebooks and IoT devices, in addition to camera auto-focus assist, and gesture recognition. Further applications include washroom automation in toilets, faucets or soap dispensers, and package counting to aid inventory management in vending machines or smart-shelf systems.
The VL53L1X measures 4.9 mm x 2.5 mm x 1.56 mm and is pin-compatible with its predecessor, the VL53L0X. The compact package contains the laser driver and emitter as well as the Single-Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) light receiver. Furthermore, the 940-nm emitter, operating in the non-visible spectrum, eliminates distracting light emission and can be hidden behind a protective window without impairing measurement performance.