Neptec's TriDAR combines the best features of the space qualified, near field LCS (based on triangulation) with a long-range Time-of-Flight (or LiDAR) system.
TriDAR operates at distances ranging from 0.5 metres to over 2000 metres without sacrificing speed or precision at either end of the range.
Neptec's 3D Automated Rendezvous and Docking Sensor (AR&D) system is based on two Neptec innovations: the TriDAR3D sensor and Neptec's 3D Intelligence (3Di) software toolkit. This combination of hardware and software creates a dynamic, powerful and resourceful system which enables efficient and reliable docking without the need for traditional target arrays.
TriDAR combines a short-range, high precision autosynchronous triangulation sensor with a mid to long-range Time-of-Flight LiDAR sensor in the same unit. The two sensors share the same optical path and control electronics resulting in a compact package with a multi-range, multi-role capability.
Neptec's 3Di software reduces the amount of data collected and processes the data efficiently on the sensor head, drastically reducing the computational overhead of working in 3D. The result is six degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) real-time tracking and pose estimation.
TriDAR made its inaugural demonstration space flight onboard Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-128 mission, launched on August 28, 2009. On STS-128, TriDAR provided astronauts with real-time guidance information during rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station (ISS). It automatically acquired and tracked the ISS using only knowledge about its shape. This marked the first time a 3D sensor based “targetless” tracking vision system was used in space.
TriDAR was again carried onboard Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. The TriDAR tracked the ISS during both rendezvous/docking operations as well as undock/flyaround operations. This marks the first demonstration of real-time embedded 6DOF tracking of a non-cooperative tumbling target in space. Finally, TriDAR completed its test demonstrations onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on the last shuttle mission STS-135. During the mission, TriDAR repeated its tracking demonstration with improved performance from hardware and software upgrades. Also, to mark this historic last shuttle mission, TriDAR acquired 3D and thermal IR imagery of the last shuttle flyaround around the completed International Space Station.