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LightWare Now Shipping MicroLidar Scanner for smaller drones, robots


August 16, 2021

LightWare Lidar, which designs and manufactures lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles and machines, has announced it is now shipping the smallest and lightest scanning lidar on the market. The SF45 scanning microLidar weighs only 59g but delivers the performance of much larger sensors, the company said.

“The SF45 democratizes machine perception, bringing vision, safety and practicality to even the smallest unmanned systems,” said Philip Constantine, CEO of LightWare. “Machines don’t have 3D perception, so they can’t make sense of unexpected obstacles. Our mission is to save the world’s machines one microLidar at a time.”

The company said the SF45 enables several new applications by providing accurate position, distance, and proximity sensing to drones and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). Able to detect obstacles in bright sunlight at 50m, the SF45 delivers an understanding of the machine’s environment to either an onboard autopilot or remote operator.

“Conventional GPS is often relied upon to provide location information so a drone can follow a predetermined flight plan,” said Constantine. “Unfortunately, the real world puts unexpected obstacles in the way. This leads to collisions and the loss of both the drone and its expensive payload. The SF45 keeps a continuous lookout for these hazards and warns of potential collisions, giving the autopilot plenty of time to react.”

To complement the SF45, LightWare also manufactures other microLidar sensors, such as the SF000/B, which weighs only 8g. Data from these sensors allow drones to safely take off and land, to hold position near an object being inspected, or closely follow terrain without flying into trees. The family of sensors is compatible with standard autopilots (Ardupilot/PX4), and APIs are provided for custom controllers, such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

“With prices starting at only $249, our affordable microLidar sensors bring perception to autonomous machines so that our customers can do their job safely and reliably,” said Constantine. “A key advantage of our microLidar sensors is that they are not cameras, and do not invade the privacy of the public. THis is becoming more important as autonomous vehicles and other machines begin to work alongside people in their daily lives.”

The LightWare SF45 will be showcased at the company’s booth (3362) at this week’s AUVSI Xponential trade show in Atlanta (Aug. 17-19). For more details on the company and its products, visit the LightWare website here.

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