Whether it’s robots operating in a disaster area, autonomous cars roaming around town, or satellites looking into space, having machines that can see through clouds, fog and fog is incredibly beneficial – and scientists may just have created the best system yet.
The newly developed system works with an algorithm that measures the motion of individual light particles or photons, when fired with rapid pulses of the laser, and uses them to reconstruct objects obscured or hidden from the human eye.
What makes this technology so special is the way it can reconstruct the light it was in Scattered And bounce around the roadblock.
In the experiments, the laser sight was able to see hidden objects behind a 1-inch layer of foam.
“Many imaging technologies make images look a little better, and a little less noisy, but that’s really something we make the invisible visible,” Says electrical engineer Gordon WeitzsteinFrom Stanford University.
“This really pushes the boundaries of what would be possible with any type of sensor system. It’s like super vision.”
When the laser light passes through the barrier – the foam, in this study – only a few photons collide with the object behind it, and fewer of that come back up again. However, the algorithm is smart enough to use those small bits of information to reconstruct the hidden object.
Officially, it’s known as confocal diffuse tomography, and while it’s not the first way to search through barriers like this one, it does offer several improvements – it can operate without knowing how remote the hidden object is, for example.
The system is also able to operate without relying on ballistic photons, as other methods do – these photons are able to travel to and from the hidden object through a scattering field, but without distorting themselves.
“We were interested in being able to photograph by scattering the media without these assumptions and collecting all the photons that were scattered to reconstruct the image,” Says electrical engineer David LindelFrom Stanford University.
“This makes our system particularly useful for large-scale applications, where there will be very few ballistic photons.”
Wide-ranging applications like navigating a self-driving car in heavy rain, for example, or even taking pictures of the Earth’s surface (or other planets) through cloud fog – there are a lot of potential uses here. Researchers are keen to continue experimenting with more scenarios and more dispersed environments.
The current systems are not particularly good at dealing with the scattering of light caused by fog and fog.
For example, LiDAR is adept at detecting things that the human eye cannot see, but begins to run into problems when rain or fog interferes with detailed laser scans. Moreover, this system can solve this problem.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s worth noting that scans using this method can take anywhere from one minute to an hour, so there are a lot of improvements to work on so far.
However, recreating an object hidden in three dimensions that the human eye cannot see is an extremely impressive feat.
“We are excited to advance this matter using other types of dispersion engineering,” Lindel says.
“So, not only the things hidden behind a thick slab of material but the things embedded in the densely scattered material, which might be like seeing an object surrounded by fog.”
The research has been published in Nature Communications.