Let's Make Robots!

Range scanner comparison?

Hello all,

I'm new to the forum, and fairly new to robotics.  I'm currently considering working on a research project involving multiple robots mapping an environment (something simple, like a wooden maze) together.  For the mapping I would need a fairly reliable range sensor.  I would very, very much appreciate some advice from seasoned robotics veterans such as many of you on this site!

  1. Do you know of any reasonably priced laser range scanners?  (Preferably below $500, not sure if that's possible at all!)
  2. Do other range measuring sensors provide reasonably good alternatives?  I've noticed that many hobby robots use ultrasonic or infrared range finders but most seem to measure distance to obstacles only directly in front of the robot.  I would hope to get distance measurements for a whole range of points in front (and to the side) of the robot.

Any advice, experience or pointers to tutorials etc. would be brilliant!

Thanks a lot,

Terminator (2)

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Only Laser Range Scanners I know of are by Sick Optic and Hokuyo. I think both have models starting around $1200 on up to $5k and more. Perhaps a laser tape measure can be adapted? 

 Sharp GP2 series IR rangers measure out to 30" maybe 60" with other models. Detection area is approximately a 5 degree cone in front of the sensor. They run about $9 to $15 each.

 Maxbotix and Devantech sonars have about a 15 dgree cone out to 10 feet or so. Cost around $25 each.

 Either IR or sonar can be scanned across an area to get a series of measurements. 

LIDAR sensors have a sweeping laser that measures objects up to 180 degrees from the sensor face. They usually interface through RS232.

Ok, thanks a lot to both of you for the quick reply!

Next question -- currently I'm looking at some kits like the Surveyor (Active Robots, http://www.active-robots.com/products/robots/surveyor-srv1.shtml), possibly with the idea of putting a small Hokuyo on top.

Does anyone have experience with Active Robots, or ready kits like this?  I'm not entirely convinced myself and still quite tempted to build the robots from scratch.  However, the time frame for the project would be about 4-5 months and there's much more to it than building the robots so I'm concerned about overextending myself.

Well, any advice appreciated, thanks a lot guys!

Well, as Fritzl has proved, it doesn't have to take a lot of time to build a bot. Look over the Start here robot page.  I can't even begin to tell you how many people have gotten a bot up and running in short order using Fritz's walk through.

Give it a shot, either way, kit or DIY, and see what you like. Or try a hybrid approach by hacking an R/C car or other toy.

If you have fun doing it, you must be doing it right.

The size of the Surveyor SRV-1 robot is 120mm long x 100mm wide x 115mm tall (5" x 4" x 5") from the website. The lowest cost Hokuyo PBS-03JN appears to be 75 x 70 x 70mm, so the laser sensor would be a somewhat large lump on top of the robot. It might be better to go with a larger Lynxmotion TriTrack chassis to provide a little more carrying capacity for the laser. You could still add the Surveyor Nav system to the larger chassis. With the larger chassis and motors, it might be good to add the larger Sabertooth h-bridge rather than rely on the one on the Surveyor electronics.
The hukuyo also requires a 24v power supply....so that'll add up to quite a few batteries, weight and real estate.....
It only requries 250 mA at the 24 volts, so a DC-DC boost regulator could probably be used.

Thanks all of you!

I've noticed that the smaller Hokuyo only needs 5v and can be powered via USB cable -- maybe a tethered robot is an option.

Well -- I think I'll start small and work my way up.  You'll probably hear from me again soon!

In the meantime, many thanks for the advice, esp. robologist.

Parallax makes the ping that measures in inches or metric and easy to hook up with the Parallax stamp series. I am told it can go up to around 11'. Interfacing to other microcontrollers I don't  know about. They have lots of imfo on their site. It sells for around $30.