Some time back I posted information about a laser range finder (LRF) designed specifically for the Arduino http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=110549 and more recently I added a sketch to communicate with another LRF http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=197835. This got me thinking about a new design for an Arduino LRF specifically to assist with robot navigation. With the recent release of the Arduino Robot, maybe a navigation LRF could be made compatible with this platform, but seeing how many other great Arduino based robots there are, a more universal design might be preferable.
The sort of LRF that might be useful for navigation would be one that could map an area the size of a large room from any point within the room. This would be a 2D map that identifies the principle walls and other significant objects. Navigation decisions could then be made within these defined boundaries like this: http://www.societyofrobots.com/images/sensors_IRSLAM.gif
Creating a 2D map would require that the LRF scan, preferably 360 degrees. I’m concerned that a motor/servo driven laser scanner would become quite expensive so it might be better to fix the LRF to the robot and “spin” the robot whenever the map has to be updated. Absolute angular orientation would be needed to complete the map so data from either wheel encoders or a magnetic compass could be used.
The LRF itself could be a stripped down version of the SF02 with a form factor that matches an Arduino shield. If the robot is for indoor use then the optical filter could be ommitted, further reducing the cost.
If you have any ideas or perhaps have been looking for this kind of laser range finder for your robotics project then please leave a note on this forum. If there’s enough interest then maybe I can get some sample units made. Perhaps I could press the company http://www.lightware.co.za/ into sponsoring a project or two but no promises just yet ;).