Neato Robotics XV-11 Lidar unit Hacked!

A mere 10 days after I posted a $200 bounty on RobotBox for hacking the Neato Robotics XV-11's lidar unit, user Hash79 has provided a hack for the unit! Thanks to lots of help from the Trossen Robotics forum, and especially user Xevel (whose code Hash79 based his hack on) we now have access to a relatively inexpensive lidar unit that is capable of taking 360 degrees of distance measurements at 1 degree increments at 10 hz. The unit has been able to make measurements out to 6 meters (~18 feet).
A nice explaination of the serial protocol (there's actually two different firmware versions) along with parsing code, can be found on Xevel's Github repository.

Video of the hack is on the blog post.

The unit currently will only send back valid data once the unit is rotating at the correct speed, but if that can be spoofed, then the unit could possibly be used to make smaller incremental measurements over a small field of view (say, looking at 90 degrees downward for flying vehicles ... ).

Thanks to Matt Trossen at Trossen Robotics, RobotNV and RobotShop for chipping in some extra money for the bounty.
There's also still $200 outstanding to the first person to demonstrate using the sensor for SLAM between points A and B (thanks to RoboDynamics for that).

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Comment by Nicolas Saugnier on December 1, 2010 at 6:54am
Just a correction : the lidar runs at 5Hz when in the robot. It could go slightly faster but not up to 10Hz, due to communication bandwidth limitations.
Comment by Patrice Mainville on December 1, 2010 at 11:46am
That still don't give us a cheap laser range finder, have to by the robot at 400$ Is there some plan to just have the lidar sell separately from neato
Comment by Hamish on December 1, 2010 at 11:51am
wow great, now i just have to wait 10 years before i find one of these in a dumpster so i can hackitup!

no but really, nice job


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