I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping count at home, but the United States issued its ten millionth patent this morning. Tellingly, that patent was for a laser-based object detection and raging system that could be used in the development of self-driving vehicles. Also, the illustrations include a little picture of a truck.

The patent was issued to the Raytheon Company, and it’s for a COHERENT LADAR USING INTRA-PIXEL QUADRATURE DETECTION, just like your grandmother used to talk about. LADAR systems are interesting; they’re sort of like a the lidar systems that many autonomous vehicles are working with now, but are laser-based instead of just light-based.

While it appears the baseline system described here is stationary, the improved detection methods described in the patent should make real-time frequency-modulated LADAR possible, which would open its use for autonomous vehicles.

Here, this should clear everything up:

Advertisement

It’s worth comparing this ten millionth patent to the first one, which was issued in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins for “improvements in the making of pot ash and pearl ash.”

I still use the Hopkins method for making my own pearl ash today!

Advertisement

Here’s to ten million more, why not?