The distance sensor is one of the most important parts of any encoder. Distance sensors are used with various geometries to determine the position and orientation of an individual object on earth. A typical application is in automotive systems, where they track the distance between two triangles mounted on two different car bodies using wheels and sensors. In this manner, it becomes possible to easily calculate the position, torsion, and movement speed at any moment during driving maneuvers.
Introduction of Laser Distance Sensor
A light sensor is a device that works with photometry, which compares the amount of light falling on it with excellent values. When detecting light, a sensor receives photons (the smallest light unit) that can affect its activity in several ways — depending on the wavelengths observed and their accordance with its characteristics and structure.
The principle of photometry is primarily used in automatic devices that can regulate the functioning of various systems. In most cases, the basis for measurements is a semiconductor material with many tiny detectors. The basic principles of device operation are extremely simple and can be understood by everyone: the light sensor and its brightness are measured, and then the object in front of it can act on them. This way, the movement speed can be calculated and processed into driving data, which becomes input data for computer control centers.
Types of Laser Distance Sensors
Laser distance sensors differ in terms of the sensor’s shape, their level in terms of functionality, and the user’s application. As already mentioned, the basic principle of these devices is photometry, which means that electrons are given a certain number of photons, and then they produce an action impulse.
It is important to note that all models operate with a photometry principle that only measures light intensity and not its color or nature. The main difference between analog and digital sensors is the method by which their data is processed; however, their differences lie not in the technique of their functioning but rather in the components used. For example, many specialized applications are created for analog sensors — for instance, lines that can be read directly from existing hazardous artificial structures without changing them and without increasing costs (such as in pilot line surveys).
Applications of Laser Distance Sensor
The primary application areas of distance sensors are in the automotive industry, with many manufacturers using these devices. This is because lasers measure distances directly; therefore, they can be integrated into optics systems without problems. It is also necessary to highlight here their extremely high durability (over 100 million measurements), their small dimensions, and their low weight. For example, Pololu linear reflective sensors have only 6 x 3 x 3 mm dimensions and weigh only 12g. In addition, they are characterized by their resistance to vibrations of up to 35 g.
Some model families have other applications: for example, Pololu linear reflective sensors can be used for the automatic production of patterns for making printed circuits. In this area, you can also use them in printers and laser cutters. In general, technology is constantly reaching new heights. Its use extends to various locations in daily life: from measuring the distance between moving bodies to read barcodes directly from a product package.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Laser Distance Sensors
Here are the most significant benefits of laser distance sensors compared to other types of distance sensors:
- It is a very common method that originated in the 1970s and was adopted by manufacturers of various devices to measure distances directly (without additional components). Since laser distance sensors are very reliable and can be used for more than 100 million measurements without changing their accuracy, they are today one of the main types used by many developers.
- In addition to their widespread use, it is also very important that this technology has many applications. It is easy to find manufacturers of various devices that use laser distance sensors in different areas of electronics and mechanics. Therefore, one can only expect that the technology will develop further.
- Its main disadvantage is that it requires a high level of expertise to install and maintain a minimum level of operational functionality. Unlike photometry, a more complex understanding of basic principles such as “electron-photon interaction” (measuring the distance between two objects) is required. Setting up a device without errors takes several hours to complete — and after this process, you need several days to test its functionality again to check whether all signals have been transferred correctly. All software parameters have been updated correctly as well.
The main advantage of distance sensors is that they can calculate not only the distance but also the speed and direction of movement. This allows for accurate and reliable control of automated systems. Pololu sensors and other comparable devices play the main role in this area, which are extremely durable and have been developed for a long time.