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We are a group of students, who are currently investigating how to build a robot that is meant to work at arctic temperatures (peaks at roughly -30 degrees Celsius). We would like to equip our robot with a motion / object detection sensor. The sensor should be able to detect movements at a distance up to 20m (assuming clear air), on a horizontal 2D plane (i.e. it is sufficient if it only detects movement on a plane parallel to the ground, that is only a few cm thick).

All other requirements are not too important right now, as we can probably engineer around most of them.

Based on our online search, we came to believe that we should probably aim for either a LiDAR or a Radar sensor, as other technologies do not seem to have enough range.

However, we struggle with pinpointing an exact product and we feel that our approach is not the best for finding a proper sensor.

Is there a better way of finding appropriate sensors other than google? Is there a specialized niche for low-temperature electronics we are not aware of? Or has maybe even one of you faced a similar situation and can help us with some recommendations?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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2 Answers 2

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Lidar: I don't believe that you will find a Lidar rated to -30C (possibly Ouster make a product) as designing condensation free optics and mechanical lubricants to operate below freezing is a specialised challenge and niche market. I would be using search terms such as "fully solid state lidar" although even these typically use a MEMS mirror for scanning.

Radar: As Spehro Pefany has answered almost any automotive or mil-spec product will operate at -40C. I would be looking for search terms such as "electronically scanned" again avoiding mechanical systems that can seize up when the lubricants freeze, and "millimetre wave" although choice of radio frequency will depend upon the angular resolution that you require to see whatever you are looking for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot for your help! This gave us the buzzwords we were missing and helped a great deal with our search! \$\endgroup\$
    – Theo85
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 9:52
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Yes, there is a specialized niche for very low temperature electronics, but -30°C is hardly "very low".

Generally anything designed for industrial (-40 to +85°C), automotive (typically -40 to +105°C) or military (-55 to +125°C) temperature ranges will be fine.

Using a search engine to find prospective manufacturers and downloading datasheets is a perfectly good way to find sources.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! We were unaware of the different temperature conventions, but these are indeed the niches we are looking for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theo85
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 9:54

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