How can I sense distance up to 10m?

I have no experience with robotics other than my Lego Mindstorms NXT, with which I made a tank, remote-controlled using an Xbox controller and GlovePIE emulator. I've been imagining building an autonomous lawn mower in the future, but I don't like the random movement of present examples by Bosch etc. As a result, I think LIDAR or even ultrasound may prove to be a solution, however after a brief internet browse, such sensors used with Arduino only seem capable of operating over very short distances, say 10cm. I write to this forum to ask if there are any longer-range sensors of distance which aren't absurdly expensive. I have considered GPS, but I don't think it's accurate enough for the straight stripes of a good lawn. I was thinking of installing a batton/skirt along one edge of an ideally 2D, rectangular lawn and have the mower steer towards the skirt if the distance increases and away if it decreases, maintaing a constant distance from the edge. I would prefer to use LIDAR rather than ultrasound, to allow me to use the device at night without confusing bats! I'm not sure how to make the vehicle turn 180 degrees at the end of the garden either; maybe the same buried wire which tells commercial robo-mowers where bounderies are? I will experiment with my Lego Mindstorms NXT and its ultrasonic sensor on that small scale and would be interested to hear of any solutions to sensing accurately distances up to... say, 10m.

handheld, digital distance meter from Lidl or a online, could the readings be intercepted from such a device by an Arduino?

Sonar works up to about 4 m, dirt cheap but slow.

The Lidar Lite V3 works amazingly well, up to about 40 m and is Arduino compatible. There are some cheaper imitations from Asia with similar ranges.

The TF Mini Lidar falls in the middle, of both price and range.


I am satisfied with this LiDAR ToF sensor

It's not expensive and it has a range up to 14m, it's fully compatible with arduino.
it's compact and faster than ultrasound. Have a look!

let us know your progress!