Aurora Innovation has been granted a patent for a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) transceiver that includes optical antenna arrays and an optical switch. The transceiver enables addressable field of view scanning by selectively providing the input signal to the antenna arrays, one array at a time. The system also includes optical splitters and a local oscillator network. GlobalData’s report on Aurora Innovation gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on Aurora Innovation, Autonomous freight management was a key innovation area identified from patents. Aurora Innovation's grant share as of September 2023 was 46%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Patent granted for a lidar sensor system

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Aurora Innovation Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11740336B2) describes a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor system that utilizes a unique configuration of optical components to improve the performance and functionality of LIDAR technology. The system includes a first optical splitter that divides an input signal into a transmit signal and a local oscillator signal. A transceiver, consisting of multiple optical antenna arrays, receives the transmit signal and distributes it to individual optical antennas through a second optical splitter. This second splitter evenly distributes the transmit signal to multiple communication channels, allowing for simultaneous transmission from the optical antennas.

One of the optical antenna arrays includes an optical pixel, which consists of one or more optical antennas and an optical combiner. The optical combiner combines the return signal received by the optical antennas with the local oscillator signal. An optical switch is also included in the system, selectively providing the transmit signal to the optical antenna arrays. A local oscillator network splits the local oscillator signal into multiple signals for the different optical antenna arrays.

The patent also describes a LIDAR sensor chip that incorporates the same optical components and functionality as the sensor system. Additionally, an autonomous vehicle is mentioned as an application for the LIDAR sensor system, where it can be used for horizon scanning and generating a point cloud representation of the vehicle's operational environment.

The unique configuration of optical components in this LIDAR sensor system offers several advantages. By enabling simultaneous transmission from multiple optical antennas, the system can efficiently scan and illuminate specific portions of a scene within the field of view. The use of optical splitters and switches allows for precise control and distribution of the transmit and local oscillator signals. This configuration also improves the accuracy and resolution of the LIDAR system, making it suitable for applications in autonomous vehicles.

Overall, this granted patent presents a novel LIDAR sensor system that utilizes innovative optical components and configurations to enhance the performance and functionality of LIDAR technology. Its potential applications in autonomous vehicles and other fields make it an exciting development in the field of LIDAR sensing.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.