Laser Developer's Blog (23)

A step closer to miniature, survey grade LiDAR

What is the difference between a low cost, hobby grade LiDAR and a much more expensive survey grade LiDAR? The short answer is that there are lots of differences. So the challenge becomes figuring out how to use the latest technology to achieve survey grade performance in a small, low cost package.

Ideally, a LiDAR should have perfect performance so that exact…


Added by Laser Developer on May 15, 2017 at 12:19am — 6 Comments

DIY LiDAR scanner using the LW20 and a digital servo

Making a small, low cost laser scanner for sense-and-avoid applications has been a objective of mine for several years. What makes this project challenging is the cost and complexity associated with motors and their drivers to provide the motion, position encoders to provide accurate aiming information and slip rings to pass the signals through the…


Added by Laser Developer on February 20, 2017 at 6:23am — 17 Comments

LW20 LiDAR - half the size, twice the performance, infinitely better.

LightWare Optoelectronics is proud to share with you some preliminary data on their new miniature laser range finder modules, the LW20 and the SF20 OEM version. These modules will be available later this year and as part of our program of supporting the DIY market we will be offering the OEM module to individual customers as well. The prices will be announced at the…


Added by Laser Developer on October 4, 2016 at 1:56am — 34 Comments

Making connections between ArduPilot and laser altimeters easier

We get lots of help requests from customers trying to configure the PixHawk and other flight controllers that are running ArduPilot software. The existing configuration interfaces, such as those found in Mission Planner, can be confusing, even for experienced users. We've introduced a "drone configuration" tool into our free…


Added by Laser Developer on September 3, 2016 at 2:09am — 5 Comments

The world's first commercial drone with collision avoidance LiDAR

SUAS News posted an article today about the Kespry Drone 2.0, a commercial drone that is advertised as requiring minimal human input during a mission. It has a forward looking LiDAR sensor specifically for obstacle sensing and collision avoidance. This might be that first commercially available drone to have LiDAR as standard equipment.

Looking at their…


Added by Laser Developer on August 30, 2016 at 3:07am — 13 Comments

The SF11/C laser altimeter - awesome performance for $249

With a range in excess of 100m and able to measure over water, the SF11/C is the most cost effective laser altimeter for drones on the market today. Compatibility with Pixhawk and derivative flight controllers and its multiple interfaces including serial, I2C, analog and USB make the SF11/C the easiest plug-and-play solution for altitude holding, terrain following and safe…


Added by Laser Developer on January 29, 2016 at 4:20am — 142 Comments

Under the hood of the SF40 smart sense-and-avoid LiDAR - part 2

The SF40 controller board

In systems that need precise timing and accurate waveform generation it is sometime necessary to separate out the time-critical elements from the non-realtime processing. Even though interrupts and realtime operating systems can improve the timing response of a processor system, microprocessors are…


Added by Laser Developer on January 16, 2016 at 12:47pm — 8 Comments

Under the hood of the SF40 smart sense-and-avoid LiDAR

The SF40 - upside down :)

The SF40 is a smart sense-and-avoid system that detects obstacles near autonomous vehicles and determines the safest route past them. On-board data analysis reduces the need for complicated processing by an external computer. The built in analytical tools can sense the presence and position of…


Added by Laser Developer on January 8, 2016 at 6:32am — 22 Comments

AGL measurement in conservation wetlands and over water using a laser altimeter

Drones have become an important tool for conservation work and we have seen them applied in game counting in Kenya, seal monitoring in the Arctic and for anti-poaching work in Southern Africa. One area of particular interest is in getting accurate size measurements of animals without direct human contact. LightWare has been assisting conservation groups with…


Added by Laser Developer on November 13, 2015 at 3:09am — 10 Comments

Long range Laser Altimeter for commercial Drones and Light Aircraft

The SF00 long range laser altimeter

Measurements of the height above ground up to and beyond 250m (820 feet) provide important information to many different types of aircraft. For commercial and military drones operating beyond line-of-sight or light aircraft and helicopters…


Added by Laser Developer on October 8, 2015 at 5:43am — 13 Comments

100% saturated mapping for obstacle sense-and-avoid

Click on the image to run the video.

At the recent InterDrone Expo in Las Vegas we were overwhelmed by interest in our latest sense-and-avoid technology using the SF40 laser scanner. It runs with 100% data saturation and I have discussed the theory behind this device …


Added by Laser Developer on September 23, 2015 at 3:17am — 13 Comments

Theoretical analysis of obstacle detection using LIDAR

Small LIDAR (scanning laser) systems can be used for obstacle detection and SLAM from a moving drone. Whilst more work is still needed on the integration of the data from these sensors into the flight software, the theoretical performance can be evaluated based on the specifications of the laser and the mechanical movement.

Ideally, we would like…


Added by Laser Developer on August 27, 2015 at 4:42am — 6 Comments

Multi-beam Laser for Forward Looking Obstacle Detection along the Flight Path.

Laser range finders can be very effective in detecting even small obstacles at long distances from a moving UAV. To cover large areas the laser beam is usually…


Added by Laser Developer on June 30, 2015 at 2:04pm — 19 Comments

High speed scanning laser weighs just 75g and measures over 100m

We've been working on a laser scanner that is light enough to be carried by a small drone. Click on the image above to see a short video of the scanning action. This prototype is based on the SF30/C and an extremely lightweight motor drive. Four slip rings are carrying power, alarm and an analog image that is updating at 2000 readings per second. The unit gives saturated laser coverage to detect even narrow…


Added by Laser Developer on June 18, 2015 at 8:15am — 27 Comments

Overhead power line detection at 60km/h using the SF30 laser

The SF30 laser range finder module has been designed to detect all kinds of different obstacles from a moving UAV. The most difficult obstacle to detect is an overhead power line because of its small diameter and dark color giving it a very small "laser cross-section". Add into this mix the issue of moving past these lines at speed and the real magnitude of the task…


Added by Laser Developer on May 25, 2015 at 8:00am — 5 Comments

SF30 LRF - how fast is fast enough for obstacle detection?

Developing a new product starts with a pretty clear idea of what you expect the finished thing to do. Mathematically, you can can work out the expected performance and logically you can understand how this performance translates into useful…


Added by Laser Developer on May 10, 2015 at 2:01am — 9 Comments

Obstacle detection LRF takes 36000 readings per second and costs only US$350

Today LightWare Optoelectronics released the SF30/B obstacle detection LRF that updates at an astonishing 36633 readings per second and has a range of 50m in all lighting conditions. The introductory price of the SF30/B is just US$350.

The SF30/B is the latest light weight laser product from LightWare designed specifically for use in…


Added by Laser Developer on March 5, 2015 at 11:30pm — 21 Comments

Laser for collision avoidance: 4000 readings per second, 120m range

LightWare Optoelectronics (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce that the SF30/C high speed laser sensor is now available for pre-order. This lightweight (35g) LRF uses time-of-flight technology to detect obstacles as far away as 120m at the astonishing speed of 4000 readings per second.

The SF30/C offers both a serial port and an analog output…


Added by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 6:00am — 20 Comments

Wide angle laser beams for anti-collision

Wide angle laser beams can detect and measure the range to people, trees and other safety critical objects from moving aerial or ground based platforms.

We've been experimenting with a new version of our SF10 laser altimeter to see what happens when we change the normally narrow, parallel laser beam into a wider, fan shape and align it horizontally or with a downwards tilt. There is a practical limit to the wide direction (major axis) of…


Added by Laser Developer on November 19, 2014 at 1:30pm — 28 Comments

The A B C of laser altimeters

The SF10 family of laser altimeters was designed by people on this forum. Requests for new features and numerous emails about performance and applications has lead to the development of a compact, light weight, rugged design that can be used in many UAV applications.

We've produce three different versions, each with the same features but having…


Added by Laser Developer on September 30, 2014 at 11:00pm — 21 Comments


Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

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