Geo Week News

June 24, 2021

LightWare announces new "microlidar" for drones, AUVs

The golf ball-sized lidar has a range from .2-50 meters and retails for under $500.

After reintroducing the "world’s smallest" microlidar earlier this year, USA-based LightWare has now launched what they claim is the new world’s smallest and lightest scanning microlidar, intended to gives eye to drones and other autonomous vehicles.

Capable of fast, accurate distance and speed measurements, LightWare’s new lidar, the SF45/B, was designed for any type of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or robot where size and weight are critical to the system design. It features an update rate of up to 5000 readings per second, and a scanning range of 0.2m up to 50m. Users can switch between horizontal or vertical Field of View (FOV), where its swivel motion, and speed, can be adjusted from 20 degrees up to 320 degrees, and up to 5 sweeps per second, respectively. Additionally, the sensor works in all light conditions, including direct sunlight, “making it ideal for rapid and high-accuracy obstacle detection”.

“The SF45 democratizes machine perception, bringing vision, safety, and practicality to even the smallest unmanned systems,” Philip Constantine, LightWare’s CEO, said.

“Autonomous machines don't have 3D depth perception, so they can't make sense of unexpected features. Our sensors give them eyes that can even see around corners.” 

Weighing in at only 59 grams and measuring 51mm x 48mm x 44mm, the SF45 is about the size of a golf ball. 

This small size is all-inclusive, with the collected data processed on-board, removing the need for dedicated processors. This design decision was key in saving weight, reducing cost, and conserving power. Additionally, the SF45 is compatible with the two popular open-source drone autopilots, ArduPilot and PX4.

LightWare understands the need for lidar technology in the future of IoT, including smart cities’ development. The SF45/B is the company’s “pride and joy” product, according to Marius, an engineer at LightWare, and it represents another step towards creating clever robots, be it in the sky or on the ground.

LightWare claims it can be used in various applications, from humanitarian and medical deliveries, obstacle detection, navigation, height above ground altitude, collision avoidance, terrain following, and detect and avoid.

Available for $449.00, the SF45/B can be purchased directly on the company’s website.

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