What is Ultrasonic Sensor Technology?

Ultrasonic sensor technology is widely used in a variety of products and environments, including self-parking cars and robotic assembly lines.

But if you’re not sure what it is or exactly how it works, it can be a little confusing.

In a nutshell, ultrasonic sensor technology is a method of distance measurement and object detection. Let’s dive into how it works – and how it is used in different applications today.

How Does Ultrasonic Sensor Technology Work?

Ultrasonic sensor technology uses ultrasonic sound to measure the distance between the sensor itself and a target object. 

In layman’s terms, the device emits an ultrasonic sound, then “listens” for the noise of the sound being reflected off the target object. The sensor measures the amount of time it takes to hear the reflected noise, and uses that to calculate the distance between the sensor and nearby objects.

Since ultrasonic sound is higher than the frequency range that humans can hear, you won’t hear anything when it’s in use even though it is emitting sound.

There are two key pieces to any device using ultrasonic sensor technology: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter emits a sound using piezoelectric crystals. The receiver “hears” the sound after it has traveled to the target object and been reflected back. 

What is Ultrasonic Sensor Technology Used For?

The most common application of ultrasonic sensor technology is as a proximity sensor. In cars, you’ll find ultrasonic sensors used for self-parking features and anti-collision safety systems. 

Manufacturers also use ultrasonic sensors for robotic collision detection systems, and even detecting the presence of people near dangerous machines.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Like all sensing technologies, ultrasonic sensor technology has its strengths and weaknesses.

One of the main advantages of ultrasonic sensors is that they are less affected by the interference of smoke, gas, and airborne particles in comparison to other sensors. Furthermore, the color of the objects being detected will not affect their performance, allowing them to easily detect translucent or transparent substances like water or glass.

Other key advantages of ultrasonic sensors are their affordability, reliability, and ease of implementation. Their small size makes it easy to incorporate them into different products and environments. Last but not least, they are very precise and can measure up to 20 meters.

As for weaknesses, ultrasonic sensor technology is affected by factors such as temperature and humidity, since these conditions influence how fast sound travels. They cannot operate in a vacuum, since sound cannot travel in such an environment. 

Furthermore, they are unable to detect where precisely an object is located in a sensing environment, only identify its distance to the sensor.

A Simple, Low-Cost and Reliable Sensing Solution

All in all, ultrasonic sensor technology is an affordable and dependable solution for many sensing needs. From the automotive industry to manufacturing to robotics, these sensors are used every day for object detection, collision prevention and more.

SensComp is a leading manufacturer of ultrasonic sensors and technology, view our complete product line online and learn more about our capabilities. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our ultrasonic sensor technology products, click here.