If you are looking for the best laser range finders for your drone or robot then you came to the right place!

lidarlite

In recent years, lidar technology has progressed rapidly, making the technology much more affordable. This is great news for the DIY robotics and drone communities! One particular application of this technology is in rangefinders. Essentially, a laser rangefinder sensor is used to measure the distance from itself to an object. This can be crucial data for robots, especially drones.

Drones normally estimate altitude position with an onboard barometer, but this reports choppy data and can get more inaccurate as time progresses. A downward facing laser range finder on a drone can give much more precise altitude readings.

Check out this graph comparing altitude readings from a barometer (red) and a lidar rangefinder (green). The lidar rangefinder readings are visibly much smoother.

Altitude reading of lidar rangefinder

In addition to providing reliable distance data, rangefinders on drones are also a requirement for many advanced functions, like precision landing and optical flow.

There are many cheap laser rangefinder modules for drones available on the market today. This makes laser rangefinders an attractive sensor to implement in any drone build, including Navio2s, Pixhawks, or any raspberry pi/arduino project!

Best Lidar Rangefinder Modules for Drones

TF Mini Plus

  • Interface: UART (can be configured to use I2C)
  • Cost: $45
  • Range: 30cm – 600cm (up to 1,200cm indoors)
  • Manufacturer: Benewake

PROS: 

  • Extremely cheap
  • Works great with Pixhawk or any major flight controller

CONS:

  • I2C is possible but must be set up manually post-purchase
  • Limited range of only 6meters outdoors

LeddarOne

LeddarOne

  • Interface: UART
  • Cost: $129
  • Range: 5cm – 4,000cm
  • Manufacturer: LeddarTech

PROS:

  • Excellent range
  • Works with Pixhawk or any major flight controller

CONS:

  • Circuit board exposed
  • Requires extra TTL to USB converter if using with Navio+Raspberry Pi drone
  • Does not come with connector. Requires some sort of female jumper cable.

Lidar Lite V3

lidarlite

  • Interface: I2C or PWM
  • Cost: $129
  • Range: 5cm – 4,000cm
  • Manufacturer: Garmin

PROS:

  • Excellent range
  • I2C interface is very convenient. Ideal for Navio+Raspberry Pi drones

CONS:

  • The supplied connector plugs into the Lidar Lite V3, but the other end must be manually set up with either DF13 (for I2C) or a 3 pin servo connection (for PWM).