Lidar for the Masses?


I will start out by saying that I am in no way associated with this product or its developers or retailers.  I just ran across this while researching for another project.  It looks very exciting and very affordable price for the claimed capabilities.  Late last year while I was in researching for UAV projects to work on, I looked heavily into SLAM for microquads.  Indoor navigation is a challenge I am sure that many of you are familiar with.  I would love to dive into this project but it is easily second quarter next year before I would have time.  I hope that this RPLIDAR helps anyone looking into lidar development.  Thank you for following the Aerial Vista Challenge Team Blog and we will have a team update this week.

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  • Aaron,

    I've hired people smarter than me to figure out the software side of this puzzle, so I'm not sharing any of the gory details yet. However, there are many people working on this kind of thing at the moment. The localization is the critical part, the mapping is optional. It's very similar to optical flow really.

  • I still don't get how LIDAR-Lite gets away with calling itself a lidar when it's just a laser rangefinder. Nice to see someone actually working on flyable lidar.

    I'd certainly need to know what the actual hardware is here before buying.

    Joshua Ott, is there somewhere we can go to read more about your SLAM work?

  • I have a Neato XV-11 , got it running with a TTL converter and Python on a PC an successfully scanned my room:)
    Jack i like your blog, could you share some code? Has anyone successfully connected Neato Lidar to Pixhawk?
  • It's nice to see this kinda products around.

  • I've been working intensively with LiDAR payloads this year. Velodyne and Riegl both make units in a form factor small enough for sUAS, the trick is that you need a very accurate IMU(ring laser or fiber optic gyros, $$$) to locate the unit or it's all for naught.

    Pro-tip: use the LiDAR output as part of your nav solution, a SLAM algorithm basically. It's a lot of data to crunch unless one is judicious with the sample. 

    I think an array of these little LiDARs could be interesting, 2D isn't enough for an air vehicle to make it's way in the world.

  • My experience with the XV-11/rplidar/cheap/open clones:

    The rplidar is a different enclosure, but probably the same electronics, which Robopeak will not disclose for obvious reasons.  No-one has the working capital to reduce the size or make any meaningful improvements in any product, except for Google. 

  • Hi Hugues,

    The LIDAR Lite is a very nice device, but it is not a scanner, it is a single point range finder so they aren't the same at all.

    It depends on what you want to do.

    If you want to see a wall before you run into it a device like the LIDAR Lite might work.

    If you want to see openings and obstacles around you, you need some kind of scanning or "camera" device.

    The Lidar Lite sees only a single point.

    The Scanner shown here scans around a full 360 degree circle showing you at least a 2 dimensional slice of the world around you.

    However, you could also mount the LIDAR Lite on a gimbal with one or 2 servos and get it to scan the area in front of you.

    Although, it's "scanned" update rate might not be fast enough either.

    Mostly the scanner shown here if mounted on a Multicopter would likely be expected to provide slow navigation through an obstacle rich environment and it would probably work better indoors.

  • MR60

    6m range is way too short for a multicopter flying fast enough (shorter range even than a MB1240 sonar). I personally will wait for the LIDAR lite that claims more than 40m range (and is cheaper).

  • Hi , A very interesting Laser Scanner.

    From what I can see functionally identical to the Neato if not actually made from Neato parts.

    I understand that Neato's scanner design is heavily patented.

    I would want to know if this is in compliance with or outside of their patents.

    As I recall, the Neato sensor uses pixel angle offset of a laser spot on a camera to determine distance as opposed to TOF which is used in all other scanners. 

    And from looking at their site it looks like the RP Lidar is also using distance angle to measure.

    This method definitely limits resolution and range and although they show 2cm as resolution I would expect that to change as the range increased.

    Regardless, if this really is a legitimate and legal Neato Clone with a more user friendly interface, this is a great price for a quite capable scanner and can certainly be used for ground vehicles though its half pound weight and the inherent fragility of the large rotating mechanism make it a harder fit in multicopters.

  • Admin

    There are also these slightly more expensive and less expensive LIDARs available:

    Cheap LIDAR

    Open LIDAR Project



    TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

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