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If you’re building a or you’re gonna need it to know where it’s at and where it’s going. For that, you’ll need to pack it with some sensors, and when it comes to reliable, low-cost navigation sensors, it’s hard to beat LIDAR. It has sharp resolution, especially when compared to sonar; LIDAR beats light and time-of-flight sensors in both terms of range and the fact that the latter often don’t work well outside; and camera-vision based systems are too unpredictable for reliable navigation.
The problem with LIDAR is that it’s not cheap. An affordable 2D unit with a 10m range can set you back at least $1,000. At least, this was the problem. Scanse, a California- base startup is breaking onto the sensor scene with a new 2D LIDAR that is both much, much cheaper than alternatives, and promises to be much better as well.
Sweep, Scanse’s offering, goes for just $250, and the spinning LIDAR sensor packs an impressive range of 40 metres, even outdoors.
Sweep works with a new kind of LIDAR sensor from a company called PulsedLight. It works in a novel way that is “based on a new time of flight ranging method, which involves sending out laser pulses that are made up of a series of micro pulses. These micro pulses act as a kind of light based checksum, which allows the sensor to more easily correlate returning light to the known pattern, and achieve a phase difference measurement,” explains Scanse’s co-founder Tson Messori.
The new method, he says, allows the sensor to use lower-power components, “which contributes to its low cost.” This also helps increase the range greatly.
Sweep is still a work in progress, and it will be some time before it’s ready to ship. But when it does, it could seriously help hobbyists create some cool tech.