LeddarTech, a developer of solid-state LiDAR solutions, has announced that its LeddarOne optical sensor has been selected by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Robota as the altimeter for the Eclipse, Robota’s new generation of fixed-wing UAV for professional surveying applications. LeddarOne will provide the drone’s autopilot with the precise, real-time height-above-ground-level measurements required during the sensitive landing phase.
Benchmarked with other ranging technologies as part of a thorough evaluation process, LeddarOne proved superior to ultrasonic sensors, with its superior range and environmental durability, and outperformed optical flow sensors in accuracy and speed. The LeddarOne also outperformed competing LiDAR solutions to which it was compared.
“Finding a small sensor with sufficient range and precision that would work in a variety of outdoor conditions turned out to be very challenging,” stated Antonio Liska, Robota’s president. “When selecting an altimeter for the Eclipse, we considered many criteria including size, power consumption, detection range, refresh rate and reliable detection on targets in various conditions, including snow,” added Liska.
Robota’s engineers concluded that the LeddarOne’s use of a diffuse infra-red LED source (instead of a narrow-beam collimated laser) delivered superior performance. The sensor’s wide light beam, coupled with its proprietary digital signal accumulation and oversampling, helps smoothen the terrain measurements and provides consistent readings, especially in cases of flying over brush, bushes or tall grass. In comparison, other LiDARs using collimated laser beams tended to return variations in altitude, which may be unwanted and can mislead the auto-pilot. The LeddarOne also demonstrated the required measurement rates and efficient data transmission, which are paramount when landing a drone that is descending at 5m/s.
“Besides the superior functionality of the product, I enjoy the configurability of the device and the frequent firmware updates provided. Moreover, we received consistent support and prompt feedback from the LeddarTech team,” added Liska.
The custom-made Eclipse UAV is an advanced mapping system that can cover nearly 400 acres per 50-minute flight and capture high resolution images with on-board cameras. Its applications include agriculture, construction, mining, and urban analysis.
LeddarOne is a very compact, high performance optical sensor module that is entirely dedicated to a single point measurement. This fixed-beam LiDAR solution can be used in various types of drones, including multi-rotors, for altimetry applications. Other models of Leddar sensors, such as the multi-segment LeddarVu, cater to other drone navigation applications, including collision avoidance.