Programmable Triangulation Light Curtains

  • Jian WangEmail author
  • Joseph Bartels
  • William Whittaker
  • Aswin C. Sankaranarayanan
  • Srinivasa G. Narasimhan
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11207)


A vehicle on a road or a robot in the field does not need a full-featured 3D depth sensor to detect potential collisions or monitor its blind spot. Instead, it needs to only monitor if any object comes within its near proximity which is an easier task than full depth scanning. We introduce a novel device that monitors the presence of objects on a virtual shell near the device, which we refer to as a light curtain. Light curtains offer a light-weight, resource-efficient and programmable approach to proximity awareness for obstacle avoidance and navigation. They also have additional benefits in terms of improving visibility in fog as well as flexibility in handling light fall-off. Our prototype for generating light curtains works by rapidly rotating a line sensor and a line laser, in synchrony. The device is capable of generating light curtains of various shapes with a range of 20–30 m in sunlight (40 m under cloudy skies and 50 m indoors) and adapts dynamically to the demands of the task. We analyze properties of light curtains and various approaches to optimize their thickness as well as power requirements. We showcase the potential of light curtains using a range of real-world scenarios.


Computational imaging Proximity sensors 



This research was supported in parts by an ONR grant N00014-15-1-2358, an ONR DURIP Award N00014-16-1-2906, and DARPA REVEAL Co-operative Agreement HR0011-16-2-0021. A. C. Sankaranarayanan was supported in part by the NSF CAREER grant CCF-1652569. J. Bartels was supported by NASA fellowship NNX14AM53H.

Supplementary material

474178_1_En_2_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 1992 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joseph Bartels
    • 1
  • William Whittaker
    • 1
  • Aswin C. Sankaranarayanan
    • 1
  • Srinivasa G. Narasimhan
    • 1
  1. 1.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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