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Spotlight on the SF11/C microLiDAR™

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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones have become the essential asset for technology-driven businesses. Their ability to explore hard-to-reach areas make them an indispensable necessity for almost all industries. With a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor integrated, UAVs are also equipped with accurate sense and perception technology. This invariably allows UAVs to perform multiple jobs in challenging environments, while significantly increasing data collection capability.  

LightWare manufactures the world’s smallest, lightest, scanning microLiDAR™ sensors that fit multiple applications. We produce affordable microLiDAR™sensorsin various shapes, sizes, and weights that fit seamlessly into any LiDAR job requirement.

In this week’s LiDAR Matters we focus our attention on the SF11/C microLiDAR™ sensor. This long range and lightweight laser altimeter is the ideal choice for UAVs requiring accurate above ground level (AGL) altitude measurements, safe and secure automated landings, precision hovering and terrain following capabilities. Weighing only 35 grams, this microLiDAR™ sensor has a fast update rate of 20 readings per second and is fully compatible with Pixhawk, ArduPilot Mega (APM) and other flight controllers. It’s also ready to plug and play on purchase.

Designed specifically for use on drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as multicopters, fixed wing, or vertical take-off and landing [VTOL] aircraft, the SF11/C microLiDAR™ sensor is a long-range and lightweight laser altimeter. It has a 100-meter range and an update rate of 20 readings per second, making it the essential addition to any unmanned aircraft requiring fast, accurate and reliable AGL (above ground level) measuring capability.

The SF11 works by measuring the time it takes for a short flash of laser light to travel to the ground and return. The accuracy of the measurement is not affected by the color or texture of the ground nor the angle of incidence of the laser beam. The SF11 is also virtually immune to background light, wind, and noise, making it the ideal AGL altimeter for all kinds of terrain. The SF11/C is particularly useful in the warning of FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) flight limits, precision photography, terrain following as well as takeoff, landing and hovering assistance.

Easy plug and play connectivity

Complete with power, interface, and micro-USB cables, the SF11/C is fully calibrated and ready to run when purchased. It includes digital (serial and I2C) and analog (12 bit) outputs with a micro-USB port and is easy to configure via the integrated menus and LightWare Terminal software.

Operating from a regulated 5V DC supply, the SF11/C includes analog, I2C and serial interfaces that can be easily connected to a Pixhawk flight controller or other standard processing platform. Each interface on the SF11 can be configured using a simple software menu that is accessible through the integrated micro-USB port. Settings can also be changed in situ using the command sets available for the serial and I2C ports.

Key features of the SF11/C

  • Extremely compact and lightweight, weighing only 35 grams
  • Accurate AGL altitude measurements on ground, foliage, and water
  • Fast update rate of 20 rps
  • Includes serial, I2C, USB and analog interfaces with programmable capabilities
  • Easy to configure using the built-in menu and LightWare Terminal software
  • Fully calibrated and ready to run
  • Compatible with Pixhawk, APM and other flight controllers
  • Accurate, fast, and reliable altitude measurements in sunny or dark conditions
  • Unaffected by speed, wind, changes in barometric pressure, noise, ambient light, terrain, or air temperature

Key specifications of the SF11/C

Range0.2 to 100 meters (natural targets); 2 to 40 meters (moving water)
Resolution1 centimeter
Update rate20 readings per second
Accuracy±0.1 meter (70% reflective target @20°C)
Power supply voltage5.0 V ± 0.5 V DC
Power supply current200 mA (maximum)
Outputs & interfacesSerial, 12C (up to 400 kHz) & analog with maximum latency of 65ms
Dimensions30 x 56.5 x 50 mm
Weight35 grams (excluding cables)
ConnectionsPlug & socket; micro-USB
Laser power20 W (peak), ˂15mW (average), Class 1M
Optical aperture51 millimeters
Beam divergence0.2°
Operating temperature0 to 40°C
ApprovalsFDA: 1410968-022 (2020/09)

Key applications of the SF11/C:

Being a lightweight laser altimeter, the SF11/C is the ideal choice for applications requiring accurate and fast AGL measuring capability:

  • Height above ground

The SF11/C microLiDAR™ sensor is ideal for use-cases like photogrammetry, observation, monitoring and surveillance. Mounted in a downward-facing orientation, the SF/11 precisely keeps track of the UAVs altitude above ground. It is also essential for safe and secure automated landings in drone delivery services.

  • Position hold (hover)

Important for when a UAV is required to fly at a specific and safe distance from a particular object, maintaining this position for monitoring, surveillance, and inspection activities.

  • Terrain following

Important for when a UAV flies over hilly, unpredictable or GPS compromised terrain, the SF11/C is mounted in a downward-facing orientation to keep track of changes in topography on the ground below.

Get the best out of your microLiDAR™ sensor with these accessories:

SF11 essential accessories:

Let’s partner – we’re with you all the way!

LightWare is ready to partner with your business and help achieve your airborne objectives. We strive for great service and offer a comprehensive range of sensors that seamlessly integrate with standard UAV systems. No case is alike, and we offer tailored LiDAR solutions where quality, accuracy and data-compliance are paramount to achieving your business objectives.

Contact us on info@lightwarelidar.com

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