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
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.
Another this changes everything moment – brought to you by Kickstarter. Sweep achieved it’s goal of $250,000 in funding in just over a month. They are taking pre-orders for December 2016 delivery at $255 per unit.
I am not a big Kickstarter fan. For one thing, too many people have been burned on drones that never took flight. There is very little about Scanse beyond a brief burst of PR. And there doesn’t seem to be any separation between Scanse and Sweep. But if Scanse can build the LIDAR, then a threshold has been broken. So even if they don’t make it to market, someone else will.