Creating 3D Maps in Real-time: Teledyne’s Improved Time of Flight (ToF) Sensor

January 27, 2023 by Damond Goodwin

Teledyne e2v has released the Hydra 3D+, a 3D ToF CMOS image sensor capable of improved performance over previous 3D sensing devices.

Teledyne e2v, a company that specializes in custom, semi-custom, and standard imaging solutions, has improved its powerful Time of Flight (ToF) CMOS image sensor, the Hydra 3D. The new sensor, the Hydra3D+, offers better performance and flexibility, better robustness for detecting artifacts, and better use of light power.


Accurate environmental sensing is crucial for mobile robotics. Image used courtesy of Teledyne e2v


Teledyne's Hydra 3D+ 

3D image capture and measurement play a critical role in quality control and inspection, as well as the sensing of unknown environments. Accurate environmental sensing is a major concern for any autonomous vehicle or robot.

Teledyne e2v's recently developed 3D imaging solution, the Hydra 3D+, is a Time of Flight (ToF) CMOS sensor specifically designed for 3D detection and measurement. ToF sensors work by emitting light and measuring the time it takes for reflected light to get back to the sensor. This principle can make for highly accurate sensing capabilities from relatively inexpensive sensors. 

The Hydra 3D+ offers a versatile 832 x 600 pixel resolution, making it compatible with various systems. Hydra3D+ embeds a 10 µm three-tap pixel, allowing the sensor to work without motion artifacts even with fast-moving objects, and Teledyne e2v's proprietary CMOS technology achieves fast transfer times down to 10 ns, improving its performance with excellent temporal noise.


Hydra 3D+ from Teledyne e2v Time of Flight CMOS sensor

The Hydra 3D+ Time of Flight CMOS sensor. Image used courtesy of Teledyne e2v


In addition, Teledyne e2v's unique patented technology is capable of significantly improving QE for NIR wavelengths, helping to reduce required lighting power. Because ToF is an active 3D technology that requires artificial light, various systems working together can interfere with each other. For that, Hydra3D+ contains a multi-system management feature embedded on-chip, allowing the sensor to be used in conjunction with other sensors without any interference.


A Reliable Measurement Without Motion Artifacts

To work in applications such as pick and place, safety, automation, and logistics, a ToF system must operate even with fast-moving objects in the environment. Due to its fast three-tap pixel, Hydra3D+ can perform reliable measurements without motion artifacts and with excellent temporal noise at short ranges.

Hydra+ with time of flight sensor works even when objects are in motion at high speeds

The Hydra 3D+ can operate without motion artifacts, even in applications where objects move at high speeds. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


3D Sensing Possibilities 

Teledyne e2v's Hydra3D+ is used to capture both 2D and 3D scenes at a large scale, making the system cost-effective for projects with a limited budget. Its sensitivity and high dynamic range (HDR) enable the sensor to operate under a wide range of reflectivity without hindering performance. Moreover, this powerful HDR technique, combined with the high flexibility of the sensor, makes it ideal for mid-to-long range applications, including AGVs, AMRs, outdoor applications, and inside surveillance systems.