SF40c 360 lidar!

Any word on how this will work? I’ve been talking to Leonard about it and for our application and it sounds very promising. We’re flying lidar with an AL-3 for mapping. When doing forestry work, it’s very stressful to say the least. Smacking a 120K lidar into a tree would such. Currently we’re using a small scout drone to fly the grid first with a video link. A real pain, but better than totally trusting SRTM data : ) Any idea on the modes it will operate in…like auto! Better order one if they’re in stock. Last I checked they weren’t.


I put together a wiki page on it just yesterday. It’s not perfect (limitations are on the wiki page) but it’s a good first step. http://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/common-lightware-sf40c-objectavoidance.html


Great work! I wonder if there any way to limit what’s recorded. For example, with my downward mounted lidar I can turn off anything closer than a meter from being recorded. So things like the bottom of my unit or landing gear aren’t in the scan. If this worked in auto, I’d fly a lot more relaxed : ) It would be pretty cool if it would simply stop in auto and allow you to take the appropriate action and allow you to continue the mission…

I like your area about turning off anything closer than a meter and in fact, I talked with Lightware yesterday about whether they could add such a feature to the SF40c - no promises but doing it in the sensor would be a lot easier for the ardupilot side :-).
I’m sure we will add object avoidance to Auto eventually. Just like terrain following, we started with the simpler modes (AltHold, Loiter) but now we support it in pretty much all modes.

I really appreciate all your work. Got a question about terrain since you brought it up : ) Scanning lidar really requires scanning as close as possible for density and penetration through canopy. If you use terrain and look at the elevation graph, it pretty much follows SRTM. Sometimes it’s got some pretty sharp transitions. Any way to smooth it out? Googleize it in other words. How would a big unit handle this say at 8m/s. Maybe I’ll give it a try tomorrow and find out.

What about this

I really hope that by the time scanse sweep is available in january next year we shall have proper support for it.

Let’s see. If the Sweep comes out and works ok, we can probably add support for it.

We don’t currently smooth out the terrain following using lidar so the results might not be good if the vehicle is flying over trees, etc. Improving that is probably a good idea but until then, it might be better just to use the SRTM data from the ground station (assuming the ground station you use supports that). I think it’s on the wiki but in any case it’s possible to use either a lidar or the google-earth/SRTM data for terrain following in AC3.4.

Yea, the lidar is just for mapping. Navigation with lidar and trees would be a big challenge. I was just trying to smooth out terrain following using SRTM. I should do more research before asking question as the look ahead seems to be the answer for now. I’m going today to do some testing and try it out. Not with the lidar rig though lol.

@Randy saw your work with the SF40C. Looking very promising. I went to the lightware website to see about ordering one, but they are out and state a 12 week lead time. Is there anywhere else to get one for testing that you know of? If not, what are your thoughts on the RPLidar a2? Range is only 6 meters, but offers a 4000 samples/s 10hz rate. It’s also half the price of the SF40C. I have an ongoing project where I am running apm copter on a pi3/navio2. This feature would be invaluable for what I am doing.


Lightware’s lead times are always quite long. I think they make a good quality product so I think they have troubles keeping up with demand. I don’t know of anywhere else to get the SF40c I’m afraid. They do have a list of distributors on their website somewhere I think.

We could potentially add support for other 360degree lidar. Someone would need to send me one though. I couldn’t promise a timeline … I would likely give it to one of the Japan Drone school students as a first step (a couple of them are looking for way to improve their skills with the ardupilot code base).

cthill24, my apologies for the long lead times on some of our products. Being a privately funded company gives us the freedom to develop some some great technology but restricts us from carrying too much stock. Please feel free to contact our customer support directly at info@lightware.co.za to get more accurate delivery status.

Hi List

@rmackay9, @Laser_DeveloperL.D.: Looks very promising your work. Do you know, if the SF40c would be supported by APM:Rover for obstacle avoidance as well?

Looking forward to any hint,

Hello, are you an agent for lightware? I am your client, I am from China, I have encountered some technical questions about commodity sf40c, I can not get in touch with the official website technicians, can you provide me with technical support or related contact information?