Man claims self driving car laser damaged Mirrorless Sensor.

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#1
Read an interesting article that a man using a Sony Mirrorless had it damaged by the lasers used by self driving cars.

Self-driving cars widely use a technology called lidar (which stands for light detection and ranging) to “see” the world using laser pulses. These lasers are designed to be safe to human eyes, but it seems they may not always be safe for cameras. A man at CES in Las Vegas says that a car-mounted lidar permanently damaged the sensor in his new $1,998 Sony a7R II mirrorless camera.
https://petapixel.com/2019/01/12/mans-1998-mirrorless-camera-fried-by-self-driving-car-laser/

Would be interested to know what those who understand the technology think?
 
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#2
I hope they solve the problem before such cars are on general release.
if not, there are going to be lots of claims against the Drivers and makers.

I was not aware that Lasers were such a problem to camera sensors.
 
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#3
I am the same I did not realise there was an issue with lasers (assuming this guy is correct). As a user of Mirrorless I wonder if it is only mirrorless that would be affected, would a DSLR be affected in the same way?
 
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I am the same I did not realise there was an issue with lasers (assuming this guy is correct). As a user of Mirrorless I wonder if it is only mirrorless that would be affected, would a DSLR be affected in the same way?
a mirrorless sensor is always active and vulnerable as it's used constantly by the EVF and liveview, a dslr uses a mirror for the OVF and only exposes the sensor briefly for the capture of an image (unless you activate live view)
 
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#5
I am the same I did not realise there was an issue with lasers (assuming this guy is correct). As a user of Mirrorless I wonder if it is only mirrorless that would be affected, would a DSLR be affected in the same way?
The sensors are the same but with mirrorless the sensor is mostly exposed whereas with a DSLR it's mostly covered by the shutter unless you're taking a picture or using live view. I'd imagine that a DSLR in live view is just as vulnerable to any lasers as a mirrorless camera but a DSLR used in its normal mirror in use mode may be more immune however any laser entering the lens will then be directed up through the focusing screen and prism and into your eye. I'd be surprised if this story is true as any laser capable of damaging a camera sensor may stand a chance of damaging peoples eyes too.
 

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#6
......I'd be surprised if this story is true as any laser capable of damaging a camera sensor may stand a chance of damaging peoples eyes too.
The wavelength of the light emitted by the laser is in the region where the human eye is not overly sensitive but sensors are still capable of capturing it.
 
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That was my thoughts that a DSLR would be less prone to damage, since it is not directly exposed for long.

Hope we have some really tech guys on here who can give us their thoughts on whether this damage is likely to be true. I do doubt it a bit like Woof woof.
 
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The wavelength of the light emitted by the laser is in the region where the human eye is not overly sensitive but sensors are still capable of capturing it.
Do you think it is likely that the sensor could be damaged Bob?
 
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#11
Lasers have been a problem for digital cameras for years.
Here's a 5D2 being killed in 2010:
Thanks for that I was not aware of this at all.
 
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#12
This is an interesting point. The company I work for is in discussion with a LIDAR manufacturer with a view to becoming a distributor for them - I will email the engineering manager and see what he says.

LIDAR is used in a multitude of applications these days, not just self-driving cars, and more applications are being developed all the time for both military and civilian use so if it is an issue it will only get worse.
 
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This is an interesting point. The company I work for is in discussion with a LIDAR manufacturer with a view to becoming a distributor for them - I will email the engineering manager and see what he says.

LIDAR is used in a multitude of applications these days, not just self-driving cars, and more applications are being developed all the time for both military and civilian use so if it is an issue it will only get worse.
Will be interested in what you find out.
 
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Ah well, we'll all be going back to the F&C section now.
At least if it etches a frame of film you can throw the negative away and wind on to the next frame... Hey, perhaps we could market some old entry-level 35mm SLRs as special 'laser safe' cameras with a disposable sensor pack (a cheap roll of 24 exposure film) for photographing driverless cars? ;) :D :coat:
 
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#16
So having had a chat, with the LIDAR manufacturer we deal with and our own optics scientists, the concensus of opinion is that it is unlikely ... but not entirely impossible. The LIDAR we are looking to distribute used a hybrid CMOS/CCD array as an imaging sensor and they've not seen any degradation to sensor performance due to length of time it's exposed to the laser. In this equipment the laser is active 100% of the time and typically deployed for at least 12months. The reason the boffins qualified their statement is that they don't have the technical specifications of every single camera sensor in the world and it is just possible that someone has designed one that is susceptable - but they doubt it. You have to bear in mind they are scientists so unless it's a proven fact there is always a possibility :)

In any case, the sensor in a camera would only be at risk if the camera was powered on and the lens generally pointed towards the LIDAR.

Hope that helps :)
 
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At least if it etches a frame of film you can throw the negative away and wind on to the next frame... Hey, perhaps we could market some old entry-level 35mm SLRs as special 'laser safe' cameras with a disposable sensor pack (a cheap roll of 24 exposure film) for photographing driverless cars? ;) :D :coat:
I see no choice but to treat myself to the SLR I have been thinking about for weeks, ho hum!:cool:
 

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#20
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the LIDAR systems are working with the diffuse laser reflections, while the camera was allegedly damaged by direct beam exposure. Does that mean things like self driving cars could be taken out of commission by someone with a laser pointer?
 
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#21
Its the same principal if your going to rob a bank.
Blind the CCTV with a laser then rob it.

Note: If you try this and get the jail its your own fault. :)
 

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#22
The article says that up to taking photos of the car his camera was fine after taking the photo of the car there were two dots burned into the sensor, it could be coincidence but...

These devices typically operate in infrared at 1550 nm which is a frequency that doesn’t get though the outer layers of the eyeball so is eye-safe but might well get focused down to a spot on the sensor by a camera lens. Although glass becomes less transparent to IR as the wave length increases so there could be some attenuation?

Someone mentioned up-thread that the receiving sensor is not degraded by the laser but of course that is a sensor that is designed for this frequency and these are time-of-flight devices so they emit a pulse and wait for the reflection. As @Tori_T says the reflection will of course be significantly lower powered than the emitted pulse because a lot of its energy will be absorbed by the surface it hits and the optics in the receiver only need to provide enough focus so that the reflected light is detectable, it does not need sharp focus.
 
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#23
So having had a chat, with the LIDAR manufacturer we deal with and our own optics scientists, the concensus of opinion is that it is unlikely ... but not entirely impossible. The LIDAR we are looking to distribute used a hybrid CMOS/CCD array as an imaging sensor and they've not seen any degradation to sensor performance due to length of time it's exposed to the laser. In this equipment the laser is active 100% of the time and typically deployed for at least 12months. The reason the boffins qualified their statement is that they don't have the technical specifications of every single camera sensor in the world and it is just possible that someone has designed one that is susceptable - but they doubt it. You have to bear in mind they are scientists so unless it's a proven fact there is always a possibility :)

In any case, the sensor in a camera would only be at risk if the camera was powered on and the lens generally pointed towards the LIDAR.

Hope that helps :)
Thank you for the information, I was very sceptical that a sensor could be damaged by this class of laser, On the downside I will have to think of another excuse to get an SLR!;)
 

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#24
I will have to think of another excuse to get an SLR!;)

Best excuse is simply "Because I want one"! However, getting it past "management" might be harder... ;)
 
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#29
I work with high powered lasers regularly and have a collection of laser damaged CCTV cameras (better to use a cheap camera to align a laser than my eye). Calculating what is eye safe and what is not is highly complex and I suspect this will be an issue for a while. The eye responds very differently to different light frequencies (UV damages the Cornea, visible is focused on the back of the eye and can damage the retina, far infra-red does not pass the Cornea). I think this lidar used a mid-infra-red so the mpe (maximum permissible exposure) is relatively higher than for a visible or near-infra-red laser normally used in lidar. This makes for a better signal to noise ratio, but means the potential to damage camera sensors. MPE, is also function of laser type (pulsed or continuous), assumed pupil size (can you see it) as well as frequency and power. All this makes it difficult to calculate and the US standards and European differ, all of which will make lawyers busy for years to come.
 
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