A Noncontact Optical Proximity Sensor for Measuring Surface Shape

  • Takeo Kanade
  • Michael Fuhrman
Part of the The Kluwer International Series in Engineering and Computer Science book series (SECS, volume 21)


We have developed a noncontact multi-light source optical proximity sensor that can measure the distance, orientation, and curvature of a surface. Beams of light are sequentially focused from light emitting diodes onto a target surface. An analog light sensor - a planar PIN diode - localizes the position of the resultant light spot in the field of view of the sensor. The 3-D locations of the light spots are then computed by triangulation. The distance, orientation, and curvature of the target surface is computed by fitting a surface to a set of data points on the surface.

The proximity sensor that has been built uses 18 light sources arranged in 5 conical rings. The sensor has a range of 10 cm where it can measure the distance of approximately 200 discrete points per second with a precision of 0.1mm, and then compute surface orientation with a precision of l.0°. This sensor may be used by a robotic manipulator to home in on an object and to trace the object’s surface.


Light Source Light Beam Target Surface Distance Axis Sensor Chip 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeo Kanade
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Fuhrman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Science Dept. and Robotics InstituteCarnegie-Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Equipment Development DivisionAlcoa Laboratories, Alcoa CenterUSA

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