We have developed a prototype real-time computer for a bathymetric lidar capable of producing point clouds attributed with total propagated uncertainty (TPU). This real-time computer employs a “mixed-mode” architecture comprised of an FPGA, CPU, and GPU. Noise reduction and ranging are performed in the digitizer’s user-programmable FPGA, and coordinates and TPU are calculated on the GPU. A Keysight M9703A digitizer with user-programmable Xilinx Virtex 6 FPGAs digitizes as many as eight channels of lidar data, performs ranging, and delivers the data to the CPU via PCIe. The floating-point-intensive coordinate and TPU calculations are performed on an NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU. Raw data and computed products are written to an SSD RAID, and an attributed point cloud is displayed to the user. This prototype computer has been tested using 7m-deep waveforms measured at a water tank on the Georgia Tech campus, and with simulated waveforms to a depth of 20m. Preliminary results show the system can compute, store, and display about 20 million points per second.
The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is developing a transportable multi-lidar instrument known as the Integrated Atmospheric Characterization System (IACS). The system will be housed in two shipping containers that will be transported to remote sites on a low-boy trailer. IACS will comprise three lidars: a 355 nm imaging lidar for profiling refractive turbulence, a 355 nm Raman lidar for profiling water vapor, and an aerosol lidar operating at 355 nm as well as 1.064 and 1.627 µm. All of the lidar transmit/receive optics will be on a common mount, pointable at any elevation angle from 10 degrees below horizontal to vertical. The entire system will be computer controlled to facilitate pointing and automatic data acquisition. The purpose of IACS is to characterize optical propagation paths during outdoor tests of electro-optical systems. The tests are anticipated to include ground-to-ground, air-to-ground, and ground-to-air scenarios, so the system must accommodate arbitrary slant paths through the atmosphere, with maximum measurement ranges of 5-10 km. Elevation angle scans will be used to determine atmospheric extinction profiles at the infrared wavelengths, and data from the three wavelengths will be used to determine the aerosol Angstrom coefficient, enabling interpolation of results to other wavelengths in the 355 nm to 1.627 µm region.