Hokuyo Laser Range Finder needs a home


I received a 2D laser range finder from the good people at Hokuyo more than 1 year ago.  My plan was to try to use it to improve ArduCopter's altitude hold or collision avoidance but other priorities have taken up my time and it has ended up sitting in it's box all that time occasionally making me feel guilty so I'm giving it away!

It's a fairly expensive sensor I believe (>$1200), beyond what most people are willing to spend for a diy project but universities seem to use them regularly.  Some specifications which can also be found here:

    sensing field of 240 degrees

    range of 6cm ~ 10m with 1cm accuracy

    completes a full scan in 0.1 seconds

    Serial or USB interface

    500mA power consumption



Ideally I'd like it to go to someone who can do the following:

  • build an arducopter library to communicate with the sensor.
  • incorporate the sensor's output for altitude hold or object avoidance.  This would likely involve:
    • adding a new throttle or roll-pitch mode to the main code
    • if used for object avoidance, adding a new PID controller to allow setting the response to objects sensed
    • adding a new parameter to enable/disable the object avoidance
  • perhaps most importantly you must have the time and desire to see the project through (something that I clearly failed at!).

By the way, this free sensor comes with free advice from me to help you overcome any code problems you face.

So if you're interested in this sensor please email or PM me and if you've got a better idea of how to use it than what I've written above that's also great!

I imagine a few people will want this sensor and I only have one so apologies in advance for those deserving people that I might not choose!

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  • I periodically lust after one of these for my RC car. They're the cheapest (still expensive) 2D LIDAR system out there (besides the Neato Robotics vacuum).

    It's a RS-232 interface and thus will require level converters to communicate with the APM. The communication spec is here if anyone wants to take a look:

  • Hi Randy, I've actually been looking at scanning LASER rangefinders for some time for robotics use.

    This particular one sells for about $2500.00 although they have a similar one with a little better range for about $1200.00 with the designation UGO1 after the model number. This particular one is also listed for indoor use only so it probably should have a supplemental enclosure built for use outside in less than perfect weather.

    Although it has reasonably high impact and vibration resistance, in use these things need to be well insulated from vibration as it can generally screw up their scanning mechanism.

    While I am sure you could use one of these for simple altitude reporting they are really designed to be an obstacle detection or scanned image producing device at which they excel.

    In the case of a multicopter you have an excellent (moving) platform for producing a scanned distance image which can provide immediate and accurate mapping data of it's surroundings (see University of Pennsylvania mapping copter. The other (and complementary) means of doing this is with an infrared 3D camera such as is used in the Microsoft Xbox Kinect and is what I am currently working with.

    My personal feeling is that this should be interfaced to provide scanning and mapping data rather than simple altitude and I am not sure that the APM has sufficient leftover bandwidth to be suitable for this task. A simple non-scanning and much cheaper laser rangefinder would be more appropriate as an altimeter and there are some assorted conversion projects for these that can be found on the web.   

    I would be willing to undertake interfacing this to the APM as an obstacle avoidance and/or distance imaging device.

    I am a retired electronics engineer who designed microcontroller hardware and software systems. Although I am more familiar with Microchip PIC designs and programming I have been working with Arduino and Android projects since I retired and have lately been working to familiarize myself with Arducopter / plane source and development system. I am a solid hardware design engineer with fair to good capability in Assembler. C, C++ and Java for microcontrollers. Depending on how a straight APM interface worked out, I might elect to interface to a separate microcontroller board (Arduino or Android to offload imaging).

    This is not a small project and I would definitely need your assistance with the Arducopter software. At least two of my Quadcopters can support the 6 oz or so  of this device.

    If there is someone already qualified with the Arducopter software who wishes to undertake this project please jump in there.

  • Randy will be helpful if you can just hook up the sensor and give us what information you can read :) I haven't checked on internet about this sensor but maybe I can find a documentation about the protocol 

  • Developer

    Good point about getting it working for arducopter.  Well..if the winner makes a library then it'll be reasonably straight forward to use it on any of the ardu-vehicles.

    I'll give a few more days for some more people to ping me then I'll announce the lucky recipient.


  • I'm pretty interested in it Randy, it'd likely be a lot better than the sonar sensors that I was going to use...  but I'm not sure if I'm going to have the time to write all the code at the moment with some outstanding groundstation work I've got.. 

  • Well, this sensor has a normal Serial interface, so will be easy connect to the APM. You just have to try to connect these two pins to an Arduino and check what is the output.

  • wish I could do something with it  I have the place for it in my plane but it wont do any good there

    maybe you could use it with ir sensor heat seeking or ir to ir following for follow me copter

    the easiest way at least to me will be integrating it with an existing rover project to max the sensor

    abilities just my 2cents

  • Developer


         Yes, I'm pretty sure it works fine outside.  The range is 6cm (min) ~ 10 meters (max).  So that's about 2 inches to 30 feet.

  • Hey Randy, How does this go outside?  does it still work?  do you know what the range would be?

  • T3

    Definitely a great little range finder. We used one on a quad for a competition but it was interfaced with a FitPC running ROS. Wish I had the time!

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