Laser rangefinder performance (i.e., maximum range) is strongly affected by environment due to visibility-dependent laser attenuation in the atmosphere and target reflectivity variations induced by surface condition changes (dry vs. wet). Both factors have their unique spectral features which means that rangefinders operating at different wavelengths are affected by specific environmental changes in a different way. Current state of the art TOF (time of flight) semiconductor laser rangefinders are based mainly on two wavelengths: 905 nm and 1550 nm, which results from atmospheric transmission windows and availability of high power pulsed sources. The paper discusses the scope of maximum range degradation of hypothetical 0.9 μm and 1.5 μm rangefinders due to selected water-related environmental effects. Atmospheric extinction spectra were adapted from Standard Atmosphere Model and reflectance fingerprints of various materials have been measured. It is not the aim of the paper to determine in general which wavelength is superior for laser range finding, since a number of criteria could be considered, but to verify their susceptibility to adverse environmental conditions.
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