The laser from a self-driving car has permanently damaged a camera belonging to an attendee at last week’s CES show in Las Vegas.
Engineer Jit Ray Chowdhury was taking photographs of the AEye vehicle which has a unit on its roof that, similar to sonar emits pulses of laser light, sensing a beam’s return in order to calculate distances. This LIDAR (light detection and ranging unit) ended up burning the sensor of Mr Chowdhury’s Sony a7R II, something that became apparent when all subsequent photographs consistently showed bright spots.
AEye has since offered to replace Mr Chowdhury’s camera, and Mr Chowdhury is keen to point out that, having photographed other similar vehicles, this incident was a one-off and not common to self-driving cars that are currently in operation. He acknowledged that it could still happen and that LIDAR manufacturers should conduct their own tests to check how their lasers behave. Speaking via email, he added, “Unfortunately we discovered it with one particular company’s LIDAR, but they might not be the only LIDAR capable of doing this to a camera, as I know a few other companies using similar tech that might cause this problem.” For more information on the details of LIDAR, be sure to check out the article on Ars Technica.
Images courtesy of Jit Ray Chowdhury. Lead image composite incorporating a photograph by Alexander Popov.