USA based LightWare LiDAR has announced the world’s smallest, lightest microLiDAR: the new SF45. Lightware says that the SF45 microLiDAR could provide drones with the “eyes” they need to see obstacles and navigate safely beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS.)
LightWare LiDAR “is taking autonomous machines to a whole new level by making them as invincible as they need to be with its new SF45 microLiDAR, the world’s smallest, lightest, scanning LiDAR sensor,” says a company press release. “By giving a machine eyes with the SF45, high cost unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) will be able to do their work with lower risk of catastrophe, including the safe delivery of their equally valuable and often lifesaving payloads.”
Philip Constantine, CEO of LightWare LiDAR LLC, explains: “The SF45 democratizes machine perception, bringing vision, safety, and practicality to even the smallest unmanned systems. Autonomous machines don’t have 3D depth perception, so they can’t make sense of unexpected features. Our sensors give them eyes that can even see around corners.”
LightWare says that the SF45 microLiDAR sensor is smaller and lighter than any LiDAR sensor before. “These sensors enable futuristic technology to function in the real world, putting drones and other autonomous machines on a whole new level where they become more useful here and now,” says Constantine. “They’ve really proven their worth in a world dominated by Covid, enabling the delivery of vaccines and medical supplies to places that are otherwise inaccessible.”
LiDAR has generally been too heavy, large and expensive to be a viable solution for “sense and avoid” on drones.
LightWare’s SF45 has overcome these objections by weighing in at only 59 grams and measuring a mere 51mm x 48mm x 44mm. Its data is processed on-board, so no dedicated processors are required, saving costs and power. It can be mounted with a vertical or horizontal field of vision ranging from 0.2m to 50m, adjustable from just a few degrees up to 320°. Privacy is guaranteed; unlike cameras that see images, LiDAR creates millions of data points to “see” objects. And because it provides real-time results, it can navigate and detect obstacles in real-time, dramatically reducing the possibility of accidents.
Samantha Pokroy, Partner & CEO of Sanari Capital, said, “LiDAR is a high growth industry with unlimited potential applications in an increasingly digital-connected and smart world, and LightWare, in particular, has been profiled as a leader in its field. It also matters to us that their stated aim is for their technology to benefit humanity in a peaceful way.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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