ST. PETERSBURG, FL—Jabil Inc. is developing a novel omnidirectional sensor for mobile robotic and industrial equipment.

The 3D time-of-flight (ToF) depth sensor combines a custom optical assembly with an active illumination approach to provide a 360-degree by 60-degree field of view. Currently in beta-testing, the solid-state sensor is designed to support lower-cost autonomous mobile robots and collaborative robots.

In contrast to conventional ToF cameras, the immersive field of view of Jabil’s omnidirectional sensor allows for seamless detection and tracking of objects in a robot’s path. Additionally, Jabil’s use of scene information to dynamically control illumination significantly reduces sensor noise and improves both data quality and power management.

“Jabil’s wide field-of-view, depth-sensing approach is opening up new possibilities for human interaction with robots,” says Donnacha O’Riordan, director of semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices Inc., which makes the depth-sensing chip used in the sensor.

Jabil’s optics team is optimizing the performance of the omnidirectional sensor to address the needs of the robotics industry. “Our design goal is to provide customers with optimal sensor performance in the smallest, lowest cost and lowest power solution possible,” says Ian Blasch, senior director of business development at Jabil Optics. “Factors such as data formats, on-sensor processing and connectivity are moving targets in the quickly evolving robotics industry. Our beta-testing program for the omnidirectional sensor will allow us to continue to collect targeted feedback from customers and partners in the robotics ecosystem.”