Obstacle Avoidance for 3DR Solo using LightWare LW20

Our friend Stephan Schindewolf, in collaboration with Thomas Stone and I.R. Lock, developed an affordable, front facing collision detection solution for the 3DR Solo, using a LightWare LW20 (or SF20) and a servo.

The LW20 comes standard with a built-in servo driver for SLAM maps within user-definable view angle and distance. The Lidar is being controlled by an Arduino, which manages the Lidar configuration, scanning and obstacle detection.

The Arduino is connected to the IMX companion computer in Solo via USB. On the IMX Stephan added the required controls and actions, LED handling, speech output and collision prevention routines in shotmanager.


Current features include:

  • 3 sector scanning for obstacles (left, center, right) within a 6 meter range ahead of Solo.
  • Scan is enabled by log-button press on the controller paddle. A short button press toggles the GoPro on/off as before.
  • Scanning on/off is indicated by a text and voice prompt in Solex.
  • The Solo LEDs indicate the detection of an obstacle by flashing in purple color: Left LED: obstacle to the left; right LED: obstacle to the right; both front LEDs: obstacle in center (LED control requires Arducopter 3.5 or higher installed)
  • If a front collision is detected, Solo goes into BRAKE mode in all flight modes except LAND or RTL. You can exit BRAKE by pressing the FLY button anytime.
  • In all smartshots, you will get visual feedback by the LEDs and voice feedback in Solex.
  • Obstacle avoidance keeps track of the forward pitch angle along with Solo altitude. As soon as the pitch angle for the current altitude would cause the lidar beam to hit ground, obstace avoidance is temporarily disabled. Both front LEDs flash in yellow to indicate that status.
  • Text and speech output in Solex, for obstacles in the center of the flight path also the approximate distance to the obstacle is reported.

The following videos show the result of the hard work:

You can view the full project here: Obstacle Avoidance for 3DR Solo

A word of caution before you proceed:

  1. All the modifications require a great portion of care since you are modifying some of the core modules of the 3DR Solo software. It is strongly recommended to backup all the original files on the IMX before making any changes.

  2. This project will void your 3DR warranty.

  3. The project describes a 3D printed plastic housing for the SF20, but the LightWare aluminium housing, as fitted on the LW20, is recommended to avoid possible overheating of the Lidar (the aluminium acts as a heat sink).

LightWare would like to thank Stephan and Thomas for this great project. Iā€™m sure many will find it interesting and helpful.

For more information about the LW20 please visit our website: LightWare


Very nice. The LW20 is a great Lidar. Super small, very reliable and great range.

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