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 time of the official launch ;).


The LW20 and SF20 miniature laser rangefinders offer high performance in a very small form factor. The LW20 is a sealed unit designed to withstand water splashes and dust whilst the SF20 is a lightweight, open frame unit ideal for OEM integration. Both units can measure more than 100 m in sunlit conditions and can measure down to almost zero distance. These professional grade sensors take up to 678 readings per second and provide distances to both the first and last signals with each measurement. The laser beam is encoded so that units can be aimed at the same target without interfering with each other, enabling multiple redundancy and allowing for many UAVs to operate safely in the same area. Serial or I2C communications ports provide a comprehensive suite of commands and the unit can be switched into power saving mode when not in use. 


  • Very small size
  • Choose either a water and dust resistant unit (LW20) or a lightweight open frame module (SF20)
  • Weight of less than 10 g for the SF20 
  • Water and dust resistant to IP67 for the LW20
  • Long measuring range beyond 100 m
  • High speed readings up to 678 per second
  • First and last signals measured with each reading
  • Encoded laser pulses for multiple systems
  • Serial or I2C interfaces compatible with 3.3 V or 5 V systems
  • Low power consumption with power saving mode


  • Distance measurement
  • Laser altimeters for small or large UAVs
  • High reliability systems using redundant sensors
  • Scanning laser systems for mapping or obstacle sensing


Model number                                               LW20                  SF20
Maximum range [m / ft]                               110 / 360             110 / 360
Minimum range                                              ~ 0                      ~ 0
Maximum update rate [rps]                           678                      678
Resolution [cm]                                               1                          1
Accuracy [cm]                                                ±5                        ±5
Weight [g / oz]                                            20 / 0.7                 10 / 0.35
Dimensions [mm]                                      20 x 30 x 35          20 x 30 x 32
Housing material                                       Aluminium             open frame
IP rating                                                         IP67                       --
Operating temperature [C]                         -20 .. +60               -20 .. +60
Power supply [V]                                        5 ± 0.5                   5 ± 0.5
Operating / standby current [mA]              170 / 45                  170 / 45


1. Maximum range is measured against a stationary, large white target in full sunlight at 84 readings per second

2. Maximum operating temperature depends on suitable airflow or heat sink

LightWare Optoelectronics (Pty) Ltd  is an ISO9001 certified manufacturer of laser products for UAVs, industrial, aircraft and other applications. The attached information is subject to change without notice.

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  • Is it possible to give a rough ballpark on price?

  • @Bernardo - Final hardware completed and some comms software still to finalize. Official launch end Jan 2017. Keep watching this space :). 

  • :) great tech specs! following up the final version and release date ;)

  • @Emin Bu - This project is progressing well and we have started sending test units to selected people. In the picture below you can see a few of the interesting features of LW20. The whole product is sealed with no exposed electronics. Cable entry is through a waterproof gland and the aluminum housing forms an RF shield. These pre-production models weigh 18g without the cables. 


  • Any news?

  • @Gary - thanks Gary, data will start coming out soon. So far it looks awesome ;).

    @Wanabigaplane - the legs are just the stand for bench top testing, not part of the product. You can direct mount the servo if you have a suitable flat spot on the airframe or else Tracy is planning to offer a bunch of different brackets that you can print yourself. She'll also provide pictures to show how best to manage cable routing.

    Expanding on the scanning theme for a moment, we'll also be offering a smart communications "hub" that manages the servo and laser controls, collects the scanned data and performs real-time analysis to locate obstacles or store maps. This hub will offload the processing from the flight controller, making it easier to develop drivers in the FC, as well as providing multiple interfaces so that a collision sensing scanner and up to two laser altimeters can be run from the same FC port.

  • Just what I need for my servo driven scanner, but some easily fixed hardware problem remain - how do you mount it on anything? Odd shape. No lugs or screw holes. Which way does the lead come out that facilitates mounting? Is there any means of cable strain relief?


  • Hi LD,

    Really happy to hear about it, looks like you will have a real winner here.

    The SF20 is just what I am looking for and I will definitely want 2 as soon as I can get them.

    Would very much like to see your scan results with your tiny servo scanner.



  • Thank You,that is great news....eagerly waiting for Tracy's project...

  • Ok, ok... Samples are already being sent to selected clients and everything is on order to start pre-production during November. Some of the first units will go to the dev's for integration into the ArduPilot project. The official launch will be at the end of January.

    We are gearing up for production of the LW20, which is the enclosed IP67 unit, and the open frame SF20 that is for OEM customers but will also be available to the DIY community. In addition, Tracy (our design genius) is preparing information on how to make your own scanning LiDAR using off-the-shelf components and some 3D printed parts. I've got one sitting on my desk that uses the SF20 module and a high quality servo. The '20 laser module is light enough to allow for a reciprocating scanning pattern and the whole scanner is about the size of a regular matchbox, weighing just 33g!


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