How LiDAR Infrared Lasers and Integrated Photonics Combine to Allow Self-Driving Cars to See at Night

In a glowing Ted-Ed lesson written by photonics expert Sajan Saini and animated by Nemanja Petrovic, narrator Addison Anderson explains how a combination of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology and integrated photonics allow self-driving cars to see clearly at night.

…a self-driving car’s LIDAR system…uses a narrow invisible infrared laser. It can image features as small as the button on a pedestrian’s shirt across the street. But how do we determine the shape, or depth, of these features? LIDAR fires a train of super-short laser pulses to give depth resolution. …With a lot of short pulses, a LIDAR system quickly renders a detailed profile.


Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.