CMOS camera provides 3D picture of surroundings

Researchers at Nottingham University are developing a 3D camera they hope could become part of Europe’s first Mars rover.

The team has submitted proposals to the European Space Agency (ESA) detailing its work on a time-of-flight camera that could help a rover plan its route by providing depth information on its surroundings.

These cameras work by firing light at their targets and use the reflected beams to calculate how far away objects are and build up a 3D picture of the target area.

Achamfuo-Yeboah hopes to develop the camera to operate between 100kHz and 50MHz, meaning it could potentially detect objects within a range of 1,500m and 3m.

At the greater distances, the resolution would be too weak to produce useful images but the technology could be used as a docking sensor for spacecraft.

Achamfuo-Yeboah also hopes that the rover camera could operate successfully at a lowest frequency of 1MHz, meaning it could see objects over a distance of up to 150m.