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 allowing the end user to choose between a high speed communication protocol or a much simpler analog comparator circuit to recognize the presence of obstacles within a predetermined distance. As with all LightWare products there is also a USB configuration port for entering settings and testing the unit.

Designed for fixed wing and 'copter platforms, the SF30/C can be used in a single or multiple unit configuration, or added to a gimbal, servo or stepper platform to form a scanning LIDAR. It has been optimized for fast measurement so with a resolution of 0.25m it nicely compliments the SF10 precision altimeters already available from LightWare.

The SF30/C is currently undergoing final testing and certification and will be available to the public from May 2015 at a price of US$850.00 (excl. shipping and duties).

Thank you to everyone at DIYDRONES who contributed to the design of this product through your critical feedback and practical suggestions. Please contact Tracy at if you are interested in this product.

Views: 2902

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on February 16, 2015 at 7:05am

Unfortunately, somewhat out of my price range.



Comment by Adrien HADJ-SALAH on February 16, 2015 at 8:12am

Wonderful job,

do you have information about power consumption of such device ?

Best regards,


Comment by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 8:14am

Yes Adrien, 250mA from a 5V power supply.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on February 16, 2015 at 8:35am

At 4000Hz refresh this also is a nice starting point for a budget 360 range scanner. Is that something you are looking at?

Comment by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 8:43am

Hi John. In all honesty we don't really know yet how this kind of technology will be integrated into UAVs. So we would rather concentrate on offering the laser end and leave the scanning mechanisms and system integration to other developers. Of course, if there is enough demand for a complete solution we will provide whatever our customers are looking for, but we're hoping that having more people involved will move things forward more rapidly.

Comment by Gary McCray on February 16, 2015 at 10:45am

Hi Laser developer,

Truly great range finder guys.

I'm very impressed by the range you are managing to achieve at that high an update rate.

Perfect for a scanned 3D point cloud for avoidance or even more complex navigation.

For multicopters, something with 1/2 or 1/3 the range would probably be more than adequate.

And I honestly believe that ground relative navigation for multicopters is going to be the most important application for these.

If it is feasible to make these in a shorter range version for 1/2 or 1/3 the money I really think that would prove to be your main market over the next few years.

Already, visual odometry with a mono camera is starting to make true ground based navigation feasible, adding the absolute position sensing of your laser scanner to that is likely to mean huge improvements in non-GPS or GPS  supplemented navigation very quickly now.

Not at all trying to tell you how to run your business, I think this is a tremendous breakthrough, just offering a thought based on my observations of where things seem to be going.

Clearly this system is of a sufficient range and capability to be used even on full sized aircraft.

Best Regards,


Comment by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 11:13am

Thanks for your comments Gary. We would love to get some production volume to drive the price down and, yes, we can save some pennies by reducing the range.

Perhaps I should let everyone know that we do these developments as a sideline to our main business, so it's not always possible to have a carefully planned marketing strategy for these products. Instead, we sometimes get permission from our core customers to offer technical innovations (that they paid for) to the general public and these are put out on this forum in the hopes that they might be useful to UAVs. It means that we end up using extremely high specification components in over designed products until such time as we can justify investing in a stand alone version with commercial grade parts. This particular development was part of a project for an aero-space company.

Comment by Dwgsparky on February 16, 2015 at 12:27pm

Sounds good and I don't want to be a bad guy on this but if its on a multicopter or fixed wing plane and a nice slow Cessna approaches at 100 mph (or 45 m/s your aircraft has less than 2 seconds to get out of the way after it has determined which way the Cessna is going. I dont think its practical as a collision avoidance system .. its probably better for fixed obstacles.

Comment by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 12:30pm

If I understand the new FAA regs, it will be illegal to operate a UAV and a light aircraft in the same space.

Comment by Laser Developer on February 16, 2015 at 12:35pm

... but power lines, trees and small children on the runway are another matter :).


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