ROS Resources: Documentation | Support | Discussion Forum | Service Status | Q&A

Low light depth camera in high dust environment

Hello all!

I am researching what kinda of depth camera to use for my project but I am having a hard time finding some answers. I am building something that will need depth information in low light (and sunlight) but also exists in a high dust environment (this will be in a desert with fine particulate dust). I realize that every once in a while I would need to clean off the sensors, so I thought about putting the depth camera (whichever I end up with) behind some sort of acrylic or glass that would allow for easy wipe down periodically.

Does anyone have any ideas or experience here? I am new to the various technologies that are available so perhaps this topic exists with answers, but not sure what do search for.

Thanks for all your help!

I have no idea at all, but note that the Mars rovers with solar panels, chose to not automatically wipe the solar panels clean from the dust, because such a wiping action will statically charge the glass/plastic, and attract even more dust. Plus, trying to wipe sand off, is basically the same thing as rubbing sandpaper on it.

Underwater applications are pretty similar to this problem since water can have high particle count (turbidity). For these kind of environments a single point light can generate a lot of backscatter from the outgoing light reflecting off suspended particles. Some ideas for how to reduce this backscatter are:

  1. Place active illumination far away from the camera
  2. Use a laser fan for active illumination instead of a single point light
  3. Use a modulated light source / receiver, backscatter show up as white noise instead of a signal

For underwater applications you can use sonar, the terrestrial equivalents would be ultrasound or radar. I’m not sure ultrasound would be a good choice in the desert since wind can make the microphone signal pretty noisy but maybe radar maybe is an option. There are some commercial off the shelf radar units that wouldn’t require wiping.

1 Like

Have you looked into using radar? Radar is good at detecting objects and measuring range & velocity. It also has no issue with dust or dirt and does not care about how much light there is.

Disclosure: I’m part of a startup who is working on developing a radar sensor for just such applications (launching soon) and I’m interested to find out more about the challenges people are having with robotic vision that radar could solve.

I’ve uploaded a short clip of the sort of data you can get using Radar (video is of person walking towards and away from the sensor)

1 Like