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.