Let's Make Robots!

Affordable Scanning LIDAR?

I read an article in ROBOT magazine about the NEATO XV-21 robot vacuum cleaner than apparently use a scanning LIDAR to map a room before vacuuming. It sells for $400 USD on RobotShop: http://www.robotshop.com/productinfo.aspx?pc=RB-Nto-10&lang=en-US  It made me wonder - if the entire robot can sell for that much - how much would the scanning laser rangefinder be and where can I find one? Sure, I could spend $400 for the entire vacuum cleaner and rip into it, but short doing that, has anyone seen the LIDAR parts on the web?  Most blogs and projects that attempt to create a DIY laser rangefinder entail a lot of effort and trial and error so if it's possible to skip straight to bolting on a unit and plugging it, that sure would be a find.

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I have done it with a WiiCam with no problem at all, and good range. I could get a solid 3 meters using a good ($20-25) laser.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S1LIiiYxzPM

If you watch through a bit, you can see the WiiDar system --it is closer to the end of the video.

Prior to release of the neato they were talking about making the scanner available to hobbyists but I haven't seen any further mention of this. It looks like they are only interested in further improvement of their cleaners now as they have released an updated model, still without making the scanner available on it's own.

That's pretty much what it is, isn't it?  There are interfaces for several non MS boxes.  I think it runs around $100.  

Seems like overkill for a vacuum robot, doesn't it?  If the robot isn't bumping into walls and sofas the way people do with a push unit, it isn't getting the edges clean.

a Kinect won't really work. I believe 30 ft is about it for distance on the Kinect. It is my understanding that LIDAR works on a principle similar to what 3d scanners use. A laser line across an area will change position based on obstacles that it encounters. Some math later, and, you know the distance of all the laser points you can calculate/see.