28 May 1999 Characterization of scannerless ladar
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Abstract
Scannerless laser radar (LADAR) is the next revolutionary step in laser radar technology. It has the potential to dramatically increase the image frame rate over raster-scanned systems while eliminating mechanical moving parts. The system presented here uses a negative lens to diverge the light from a pulsed laser to floodlight illuminate a target. Return light is collected by a commercial camera lens, an image intensifier tube applies a modulated gain, and a relay lens focuses the resulting image onto a commercial CCD camera. To produce range data, a minimum of three snapshots is required while modulating the gain of the image intensifier tube's microchannel plate (MCP) at a MHz rate. Since November 1997 the scannerless LADAR designed by Sandia National Laboratories has undergone extensive testing. It has been taken on numerous field tests and has imaged calibrated panels up to a distance of 1 km on an outdoor range. Images have been taken at ranges over a kilometer and can be taken at much longer ranges with modified range gate settings. Sample imagery and potential applications are presented here. The accuracy of range imagery produced by this scannerless LADAR has been evaluated and the range resolution was found to be approximately 15 cm. Its sensitivity was also quantified and found to be many factors better than raster- scanned direct detection LADAR systems. Additionally, the effect of the number of snapshots and the phase spacing between them on the quality of the range data has been evaluated. Overall, the impressive results produced by scannerless LADAR are ideal for autonomous munitions guidance and various other applications.
© (1999) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Todd C. Monson, Jeffrey W. Grantham, Steve W. Childress, John T. Sackos, Robert O. Nellums, Steve M. Lebien, "Characterization of scannerless ladar", Proc. SPIE 3707, Laser Radar Technology and Applications IV, (28 May 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.351362; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.351362
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