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 obstacles.

The 'scope trace below shows the distance (yellow) and alarm (blue) outputs for a 360 degree scan. Straight forwards is in the middle of the trace.

The alarm has been set to pick up the four narrow poles spaced around the center of the scan. The unit can measure out to a radius of 100m and draws less than 500mA at 5V during operation. Interfacing is easily done by either monitoring the digital alarm or collecting analog results in order to draw SLAM maps.

This scanning laser can be used for accurate positioning in complex indoor or outdoor environments or for obstacle detection whilst the drone is operating close to the ground.

We will be packaging this prototype over the next few months and plan to release it with a retail price of US$999.00

Views: 3835

Comment by FPVRACING.TV on June 18, 2015 at 8:34am

Do you have a website or something we can visit for updates?

Comment by Laser Developer on June 18, 2015 at 9:38am
You can follow us at LightWare.co.za

T3
Comment by Thorsten on June 18, 2015 at 11:50am

Cool!

This could be the beginning of a revolution! Not only "for accurate positioning in complex indoor or outdoor environments or for obstacle detection" but also for typical LIDAR mapping applications - or is there a problem with the beam width? Next steps required would be the integration of IMU and RTK GPS data.

Looking forward to it!

Comment by Laser Developer on June 18, 2015 at 12:03pm
@Thorsten - hey, don't give away all our secrets just yet! Mapping is coming later and we've got lots more tricks in the product pipeline :) We're just so excited about getting the weight down so low on the motor drive system which has an accurate encoder built in.
Comment by Christian Stallings on June 18, 2015 at 12:18pm

I'm curious if there is any benefit rotating the laser vs. using an oscillating mirror or rotating polygon mirror?

Comment by Laser Developer on June 18, 2015 at 12:33pm
For a light weight system at a reasonable cost, moving the whole laser has some big advantages. There is no backscatter or signal attenuation from the mirror and the system is very resistant to dust build up on the optical surfaces. The main limitation is the need for slip rings. For most LIDAR manufacturers there is an issue because of the weight of the laser module but our SF30 only weighs 35g which is lighter than many prisms. Keeping the mass down also allows us to oscillate the laser module and our drive system has very low intertia so this is a real option. It allows for multi-mode operation with forward looking oscillations for obstacle detection or 360 degree SLAM when hovering. Our full mapping unit has more axes to work with but that is for another day!

Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on June 18, 2015 at 12:50pm

Hi Laser Developer ,

i'm working to a project similar to your , i think that your big advantages is the khz quantity of data .. i totally agree that is simple to implement a rotative lidar with your SF30 technoloy.

We are did a lot of test with different kind of low cost lidar , i'd like to join your work and support you with the integration in flight controller ... 

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on June 18, 2015 at 1:10pm

Cool stuff.  I was going to ask if there was an encoder, but you state there is?  How many steps?


T3
Comment by Thorsten on June 18, 2015 at 1:10pm

Roberto, great idea!

I have to contact you because of the RXM-RAWX logging.

Cheers,

Thorsten

PS: yes a separate data logger would be required I guess - if there would be some synchronized timing/trigger events - like CAM_TRIGG_DIST it should be possible to merge the data from the flight controller and the LIDAR

Comment by johnkowalsky on June 18, 2015 at 2:48pm

What kind of motor is that ? You say it has an encoder ?

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