Sparkfun had a link to an interesting article about supporting the development of LIDAR-Lite: http://www.dragoninnovation.com/projects/32-lidar-lite-by-pulsedlight
Rather pricey but if it can provide better scanning capability over the ultrasonic sensors it might be fun to use. Any one heard about this?
3/14/14 Pi Day Update
After successfully reaching their first goal, a stretch goal is now on. Here is a quick summary:
If you back the project at $79 you get one LIDAR-Lite and at $145 you get two.
If they meet the stretch goal the current model using an LED light source gets upgrated to a version with a laser, making it qualified LIDAR. All backers will get the upgraded model.
A few specs to go on from the company:
1.We replace the LED in LIDAR-Lite with a Laser. This makes the current 1.5° beam shrink to <1/2°. The smaller more collimated beam gives the sensor greater sensitivity and performance.
2.To offset the added cost of the laser we install smaller optics (12.7mm instead of the existing 23mm) into a simpler housing. This makes LIDAR-Lite lighter and smaller, 19mm wide X 20mm tall X 44mm long instead of 30mm wide X 39mm tall X 51mm long.
3.We do eye-safety certification.
What are the benefits of doing this?
Well, it’s still a 40m sensor, but now instead of 40m being the maximum range, it will be better than 40m under typical operating conditions. Just to explain; the smaller optics, save money and allow us to install a laser. However, the smaller aperture does reduce the maximum operating range, so it’s not the 100m sensor it could be with larger 23mm optics. But, you will get better performance under more operating conditions within the full 40m range window of the sensor. And it gets lighter and smaller to boot!
The company has said before that this sensor will measure down to a distance of zero and I'm going to be asking if that will still be the case with the laser version.