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).
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).