SUAS News posted an article today about the Kespry Drone 2.0, a commercial drone that is advertised as requiring minimal human input during a mission. It has a forward looking LiDAR sensor specifically for obstacle sensing and collision avoidance. This might be that first commercially available drone to have LiDAR as standard equipment.

Looking at their website, I see that Kespry is offering cloud services to go with their new drone. This fits nicely into the business model that CA has suggested is essential for the long term sustainability of a modern drone company. Lasers and cloud services, I wish I'd thought of that! 

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  • Hi LD,

    I was actually already wondering about a purposeful flight pattern for directing the laser beam.

    On a quad, really easy to fly forward while inducing a "conical" say movement of the laser beam and also sweep it back and forth and or up and down a bit just by purposely "wobbling" your copter.

    Certainly not the most efficient means of beam control, but it could work and as long as you know where you were and where you were pointed you could assemble a potentially useful point cloud or more realistically just "fly scan" for obstacles in the flight path.

    You could even use that method to "focus" on particular objects of interest.

    Your SF 33 - 3 Beam sensors could certainly make this kind of application easier to implement. 

    Not quite the same thing, but the Velodyne puck  LITE rotary scanner has 16 channels, of course they aren't giving these things away, $7000.00 plus I believe:


    Voice coil / galvo, great idea, that is actually how laser reflection mirrors are already commonly operated and with the entire unit getting so small it makes perfect sense, (those things are power hogs however.)

    Best Regards,


  • They definitely are funding a LOT of advertising, I see it all the time as I surf the web, and they are often a sponsored result when I'm Googling for UAV related stuff.  I assume growing pretty quick.  I've seen them capture customers in this area.

    But at least in Canada, I wonder if they will face a backlash when customers start getting fined by TC for operating without a permit.

  • @Rob - yes, beam steering is possible by moving the lenses or by adding a steerable mirror-on-a-chip into the beam path. Another solution to creating a wider scan pattern is to use a multi-beam laser. Typically the beam separation is 3-5 degrees and we produce a 3 beam version in the same form factor as our other products. This allows smaller movements to produce more coverage.

    With smaller laser modules in the pipeline, there's also the option of moving the entire module with a voice coil.

    I can't comment on Kespy's business practices but I think that technically they are becoming a serious player in the drone market. It's easy to talk about what might be, as exemplified by the numerous KickStarter failures, but I am always excited when a company manages to get a product out there and learns first hand about the pros and cons of their chosen technologies. And yes, they like all of us, will make many mistakes!

  • LD, I was thinking about that too.  It's not quite the same as a controlled scan of course, and leaves you at the mercy of those natural motions.  For example, if you are flying forward into a wind, you'll be scanning an area inclined about 20 degrees from straight ahead.  

    I was wondering, is it possible to make a low-angle scanner by moving just the lens?  Could the lens be articulated by a voice-coil or something like that?

    But, I'm going to go ahead and guess that none of this is really happening, and maybe the Lidar system, as shown in the video, is maybe a bit of an exaggeration about what it's doing.

    I know in Canada they were misleading customers into believing that they could operate these systems without obtaining an SFOC from Transport Canada.  I don't say that lightly.  So, it just colours my perception of their business practices.

  • I didn't know about the release of the Drone 2.0 until I saw Gary's article, but given that LightWare supplies many of the drone manufacturing companies it is a fair bet to say that they are using one of our laser modules.

    What interested me was the video on the Kespry website showing the LiDAR in action. It looks like the laser beam is scanning. This got me thinking that they might be using "natural scanning" to create a random point cloud rather than "forced scanning" driven by a motor or servo. There are many LiDAR devices used in other applications that rely on natural motion to build up an image from a single beam by collecting information about the aiming direction from an IMU rather than reading an encoder. This works as long as there is significant random movement of the laser beam, and let's face it, a drone is a great source of random motion!

    You can test this principle yourself by taking a regular, visible laser pointer and aiming it a target 20m away. You should see that the laser beam performs a rapid, random "walk" as a consequence of the small movements of your hand and body. The further away you go, the more pronounced the movement becomes.

  • Moderator

    Well according to the press release Rob “We’ve seen increased demand from technology partners like Kespry in the drone and robotics markets,” commented John Monti, director of visual imaging solutions at Sony Electronics. “The new lightweight Sony UMC-R10C is designed specifically for industrial applications leveraging low weight while maintaining high-quality image capture.”

  • Oh, and another interesting point.  I thought that lens looked familiar.  And one report I read says that it's the Sony UMC-R10C.  Which means that it's not a 3DR specific product?

  • I was just about to ask if this is a single point Lidar or if it has any ability to sweep or other array feature?

    So, I wonder... I've heard, I don't know if this is true, but I've heard that Kespry is using Arducopter on their first generation drone.  Are they still using it on V2.0?  And if so, have they developed some collision avoidance function that they would like to share?

  • So this Kickstarter was going before Garmin purchased PulsedLight. They make a product based around the Lidar Lite sensor and they've posted that they won't have supply issues for V3 because their deal was done before the purchase. They're also allowing for new orders of their product on the website, indicating no particular lack of supply for the sensors. I would be pretty disappointed if I had to buy their product just to crack it open for the Lidar Lite but I'd still probably do it.



  • Hi Brandon, 

    Unless you have heard something direct from Garmin, I think the V3 went down the tubes when Garmin boughtPulsed Light.

    I have seen absolutely no mention of Garmin continuing with this and if you have information to the contrary I would very much like to know about it.

    I know there are still references to the V3 on some of the original re-sellers for Pulsed Light, but I think they just haven't pulled those yet.

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