Smartphone-Based Laser Distance Sensor

Laser distance sensors such as LIDAR are useful for many outdoor robotic vehicles, but their high cost and complexity precludes their use in low-cost applications, while other low-cost depth sensing technologies are not suitable for outdoor use. Researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory present a low-cost, smartphone-based planar laser distance sensor design for outdoor use with 6-cm accuracy at five meters, 30 Hz scan rate, and 0.1 degree resolution over the field of view. The cost of the hardware additions to the off-the-shelf smartphone used in the prototype is under $50.