does anybody know where to purchase an inexpensive lidar or radar sensor that is compatible with the cRio? a long distance IR will work too. my friend and I are making an autonomous go-kart over the summer, and have spent hours searching, with no luck. only found an IR up to 6.5 meters, we were looking for longer range.

The cheapest LIDAR/RADAR sensor is most likely the Microsoft Kinect.

A lot of colleges and research programs have been using it as a cheap alternative to LIDAR for SLAM.

Keep your eye on the LIDAR-Lite by a startup called Pulsed Light. $72 at 3d robotics (release date in June). They claim it’s got up to 40m range using LEDs rather than Lasers, pretty incredible claims. I’m planning on getting ahold of one and determining it’s feasibility for use in FIRST robotics. If it does what it says, it could be a cheaper, less power-hungry alternative to putting something like the Kinect on a Robot for ranging.

According to the docs, you can interface to it w/I2C. It may be too early in its lifecycle to use it for what you’re looking for, but it does look interesting.

  • scott
    Control System Mentor
    Kauaibots, Team 2465

Looks like they are building it for use for the upcoming FIRST 2015 season. They claim it will be RobotRio compatible. This in combo with their IMU has some interesting possibilities. I plan on getting the lidar-lite and playing in the off season regardless of when they release theirs. From their page:

“Kauai Labs has ordered one of these units and will be developing a prototype 2D scanner which can measure 360 degrees of distance and SNR, designed for use in FIRST robotics to enable localization. Stay tuned for more developments, we’ll be posting details as they emerge.”

To do something useful on a FIRST field does it have to be able to be a long distance, or would 3.5m 3D, or 6m 2D be useful? The 3.5 meter range of a the 3D structure sensor (, $398) be useful in building up a SLAM representation of the portion of the field the robot can actually have an impact on and possibly do something useful.

Also would the 6 Meters 2D sensing range of the RPLidar provide some useful capability in being able to provide positioning of the robot? ( , $399)

I think I vaguely heard laser distance sensors were not good on a FRC field because of some kind of interference they caused with other robots, will this be a problem with a LIDAR sensor on a robot? Or, with the scattered laser – and therefor brief interference that a LIDAR laser might cause – would not cause problems with other robots. If two robots had LIDAR sensors it seems only a few stray data points might be created occasionally, so it seems it would not be a problem.

Last year was my first FRC year and it seems to me that LIDAR getting in the price range of FRC is new, but also actually being able to use LIDAR in a way that provides advantage on the field would be difficult. But it is very intriguing.

In 2013, we have a Kinect sensor on the robot for auto-aiming (software is driven by RoboRealm running on a netbook). It worked well during practice (driver only have to hold a button to line up autonomously for the Full Court Shot and once the shooter is at the right speed, it fires.)

Unfortunately, sunlight caused problems to the infra-red camera (too bright). We eventually replaced it with a simple Axis Camera.

Distance sensing in indoor environment is very impressive though.

610’s 2013 robot video: