Sipeed Launches Its MetaSense A010, Lite, A075V ROS-Compatible Depth-Sensing Camera Sensors

Trio of cameras offer full depth-sensing to over six feet, USB Type-C connectivity, and even the option of on-board edge AI acceleration.

Embedded specialist Sipeed has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a pair of depth-sensing time-of-flight (ToF) camera modules, the MetaSense A075V and A010 — offering up to a 320×240 resolution and the option of a built-in neural network coprocessor for edge AI work.

"MetaSense [cameras] use ToF (Time of Flight) technology to measure the 3D [depth] information," Sipeed's Wu Caesar explains of his company's latest product launch, brought to our attention by CNX Software. "[They are] the easy and low-cost way to sense the real 3D world, from low-end MCU [Microcontroller Unit] to complex ROS [Robot Operating System] robots."

Sipeed has announced two depth-sensing cameras, dubbed MetaSense, promising full ROS/ROS 2 support. (📹: Sipeed)

The company has announced three models in the new range, both using active time-of-flight depth sensing. The base model, aimed at use with microcontrollers, is the MetaSense A010 Lite. Built around an OPNOUS sensor with 940nm VCSEL laser emitter, the sensor offers a 100×100 measurement grid with 70° horizontal and 60° vertical field of vision and a 0.2 to 2.5m (around 0.67' to 8.2') measurement range at 20 frames per second.

For those who need something a little more standalone, the A010 proper adds in a 1.14" color LCD panel driven by the module's on-board Boufallo BL702 144MHz RISC-V microcontroller. In either case, there's a USB Type-C port for power and data, the latter provided as an AT-style command and control system exposed over a UART bus.

If you need a little more, the A075V offers a 320×240 measurement grid at 0.2 to 2m (around 0.67' to 6.6') with a 55° horizontal and 72° field-of-view at 30 frames per second, while a secondary visible-light camera captures color imagery at 800×600 with a matching frame rate. There's a processor on-board, but this one's a step above the A010 family: a quad-core Arm Cortex-A7 running at 1.5GHz with 128MB of RAM, 128MB of flash storage, and a neural network coprocessor offering a claimed 0.4 trillion operations per second (TOPS) compute.

There's a sign Sipeed may have struggled to pack the hardware into such a compact design, however: the bundled case includes a cooling fan, while a USB Type-C connector adds support for interfacing with an in-browser app hosted on the camera itself for depth, infrared, visible-light, and point-cloud access. Sipeed is also sharing a Python software development kit (SDK) for the camera and promises full support for ROS and ROS 2.

It's the pricing that makes Sipeed's take on ToF depth-sensing a tempting proposition, though. The company is charging just $19 for the MetaSense A010 Lite, $25 for the A010 proper, $75 reward for the A075V, and $94 for a bundle, which includes the A010 and A075V — all at a claimed 20 per cent discount from the expected retail price post-crowdfunding.

The MetaSense crowdfunding campaign is now live on Indiegogo, having already reached its modest funding goal, with all hardware scheduled to ship in October or November 2022.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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