A small, non-contact optical sensor uses ranges and images to detect its relative position to an object in up to six degrees of freedom. The sensor has three light emitting range detectors which illuminate a target and can be used to determine distance and two tilt angles. A camera located between the three range detectors senses the three remaining degrees of freedom, two translations and one rotation. Various range detectors, with different light sources, e.g. lasers and LEDs, different collection options, and different detection schemes, e.g. diminishing return and time of flight can be used. This sensor increases the capability and flexibility of computer controlled machines, e.g. it can instruct a robot how to adjust automatically to different positions and orientations of a part.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.