GSC-TOPS-34

High-resolution, real-time three-dimensional imaging

Center: Goddard Space Flight Center

Category: Optics

Patent: 8,547,531

Inventor: Michael A. Krainak

 

NASA Technology Page

Invention Overview:

An apparatus and method for three-dimensional range imaging, like Google Earth.  This technology utilizes a lens system to illuminate an object with an array of optical spots to generate a topographic profile.  This system improves on both Scanning LiDAR systems and Flash LiDAR systems by producing real-time three-dimensional images at television frame rates (30 frames per second)

  

Stage:

System/subsystem/component validation in relevant environment: Thorough testing of prototyping in representative environment. Basic technology elements integrated with reasonably realistic supporting elements. Prototyping implementations conform to target environment and interfaces.

 

Application(s):

Robotic vision and guidance, surface characterization, terrestrial surveying, vehicle collision avoidance, medical imaging, remote sensing (ie. LiDAR mapping)

 

Differentiators:

  • Simple design: the invention does not require scanning or moving parts to produce high resolution images.
  • Greatly improved system efficiency and reduced crosstalk: the physical separation of spots in the object plane using a a microlens to generate an array of equal intensity improves efficiency and reduces crosstalk between pixels.

Invention Disadvantages and Possible Mitigation:

Crowded market for 3-D range imaging.  Technology must prove to be distinctively differentiated than current offerings