Stanford Scientists Create 4D Camera for Self-Driving Vehicles and Delivery Drones

Technology is constantly undergoing major changes. Stanford University scientists have come up with a new type of camera which works across four dimensions. It is believed this camera will be of great use for autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and other purposes over the next few years.

New 4D Camera Collects More Information Than Predecessors

It is impossible to consider the future of drones and self-driving vehicles without equipping them with sensors and cameras. These devices are used to collect valuable information around the clock. However, most of these instruments have a very limited and narrow point of view. The new device developed by Stanford University scientists is an improvement thanks to its 140 degrees of information.

The researchers claim this is the world’s first-ever single-lens, wide field of view, light field camera. The device heavily relies on light field photography for additional information. That technology is what adds a fourth dimension to this otherwise-3D camera. Being able to observe the direction and distance of light hitting the lens and combining that information with a 2D image should yield some impressive results over time.

This new 4D camera has another interesting feature as well. It is capable of refocusing images after they are taken, which is what makes light field photography such an appealing technology. It also explains how so much additional information can be gathered despite only equipping the camera with a single lens. For both autonomous vehicles and delivery drones, these cameras could make a massive difference.

The use of this 4D camera is not necessarily limited to those two industries in particular, however. Any type of robot or machine could make use of these advanced features in the future. Even search-and-rescue robots will benefit from light field features to get better close-up images of specific locations. Stanford’s engineers also feel such a camera will enhance augmented and virtual reality thanks to its capability of providing seamless renderings.

It will take some time before this 4D camera becomes a tangible item for experimentation. It remains in the proof of concept stage for the foreseeable future, mainly because it is far too large to be used conveniently. A smaller and lighter version of this camera is already under development, but it will take months if not years until a major breakthrough is achieved.

Technological advancements will make a big impact on our daily lives. Whether it be 4D cameras or autonomous vehicles, there has hardly been a more exciting time to be alive than right now. It will be interesting to see what scientists and engineers come up with next, as every new innovation raises the bar just a little bit higher. The video below shows how this new 4D camera works and what it does differently. We cannot wait to see what the upgraded versions look like.