Intel and Semtech team on future chipsets for lidar technology

Intel's RealSense L515 camera relies on lidar for a high resolution image.

Intel and Semtech announced on Tuesday a collaboration to further develop semiconductor platforms for lidar technology.  Semtech’s optical chips are now integrated into the Intel RealSense L515 camera, enabling a consumer-grade, high resolution lidar depth camera.

The L515 camera has previously been marketed by Intel for a variety of indoor industrial applications, including robotics, logistics and scanning with depth.  As part of an inventory management system, it can be used for counting objects on a shelf, for example, at distances from 0.25 to 9 meters. 

Teams from both companies have focused on enabling the camera to work in very low signal-to-noise ratio environments.  Semtech’s programmable transimpedance amplifiers (TIAs) feature low input referred noise, allowing the L515 to become a power-efficient, highly accurate lidar system with high resolution of up to 23 million depth points per second.

Semtech has been working with Intel on lidar for several years and Semtech has developed two generations of lidar chips in production. The collaboration will look at developing future chipsets, said Gary Beauchamp, general manager of Semtechs signal integrity products group.

The Semtech TIA helps the L515 achieve high-precision depth at less than 16 mm error when used at its maximum operating range. The L515 with high frequency laser modulation has the ability to sense small objects as small as 7 mm in diameter when 1 meter away.

Intel Real Sense technology in the L515 has been used in robotics, logistics, scanning and related computer vision applications, on sale for $369.

The L515 with Semtech’s TIA will be the world’s smallest, high-resolution lidar depth camera, which can be used in a variety of scenarios, Intel said. Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging, relies on light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances which helps a sensor in grabbing an accurate image.  The L515 uses a Class 1 eye safe laser.

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