Omron sensor provides ToF positioning for autonomous robots

  • October 21, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Japanese electronics company Omron has developed a time-of-light ranging sensor to provide positioning, autonomous-guidance and proximity sensing for a wide range of applications.

“Our new sensor is a mechanical eye that is capable of accurately and easily detecting the surrounding environment, which will contribute to the more widespread use of autonomous robots as well as the automation of various other machinery and equipment,” said Gabriele Fulco, European product marketing manager at Omron.

The B5L 3D sensor can be fitted to moving objects, such as autonomous mobile robots, to provide real-time contextual information such as guidance, collision avoidance and cliff detection. Alternatively, located in a fixed position, the sensor can accurately detect moving objects in the field of view. It is thus suitabled for use in automated packaging equipment, security systems, intruder detection, and patient-monitoring and elderly-care systems.

The sensor module operates on the time-of-flight principle. It calculates distances to objects in real time by measuring the round-trip time for near-infra-red radiation from the module’s emitter to be reflected from objects in the field of view and return to the receiver. The optical design technology is for the stable measurement of three-dimensional distance information across a wide area even in sub-optimal conditions such as under sunlight.

Running at up to 20 frames per second, its specifications are optimised for long periods of continuous operation to allow it to be used as an embedded sensor in various instruments.

The 103 by 43mm module comes fitted with a 24V DC power connector and Micro-USB communication port, offering easy integration and flexibility for embedded-systems designers. Featuring a 940nm near-infra-red emitter and 240 x 320 pixel receiving array, the sensor gives ranging information for the entire field of view and measures the absolute distance to objects from 0.5 to 4m.

Precision is ±2% at a detection distance of 2m. Built-in temperature compensation simplifies its integration in autonomous robots and other equipment used in various environments by eliminating the need for the design of separate compensation processing.

With a wide viewing angle and 0 to +50˚C operating-temperature, the B5L-A2S-U01-010 can be used in numerous indoor applications.

It is in production now and available directly from Omron or through its distributors.