Small LiDAR Sensors for Drones & UAVs

Find suppliers and manufacturers of small LiDAR scanners for drones and robotics, including compact, micro, and miniature LiDAR sensors and rangefinders for UAV applications such as navigation, DAA, SLAM, ADAS and precision takeoff & landing
Overview Small LiDAR Sensors for Drones & UAVs
By Staff Writer Last updated: October 11th, 2023

Miniature LiDAR Scanners & Rangefinders

LiDAR sensors emit laser pulses that bounce off objects in the surrounding environment and are reflected back to the sensor. By measuring the time taken for each pulse to return, the distance to objects can be calculated. While larger systems use this optical time-of-flight principle to create 3D point clouds that can be used for LiDAR mapping, modeling and surveying, drones and robotics can use smaller LiDAR sensors for navigation-related applications.

Small LiDAR Sensor Applications

Precision takeoff & landing for UAVs

LiDAR-Lite v3 Small LiDAR Sensor by Garmin

LiDAR-Lite v3 Small LiDAR Sensor by Garmin

Miniature LiDAR modules are an ideal solution for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) operations, providing high-accuracy measurements for autonomous takeoff and landing in confined spaces while providing minimal impact upon SWaP (size, weight and power). Used essentially as a form of altimeter, they may also aid in other high-precision drone operations such as package retrieval.

Detect and Avoid

Detect/sense and avoid (DAA/SAA) systems are critical for UAS safety, providing obstacle detection and collision avoidance in busy airspace. Small LiDAR sensors are highly suited to this task, providing extremely rapid distance measurements and allowing drones to react quickly to unexpected changes in the environment.

Self-driving vehicles and ADAS

Compact LiDAR-based laser rangefinders provide essential intelligence for self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles and ADAS (advanced driver assist systems). They can provide 360-degree monitoring of highly dynamic environments, enabling safe and effective autonomous driving and operations.


Lightweight LiDAR sensing modules can be used to provide data for SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), allowing UAVs and UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles) to navigate in GPS-denied environments such as underground caves and mines.

Compatibility & Communication Protocols

Small LiDAR sensors may be compatible with a range of drone flight controllers such as Ardupilot, PX4 and Pixhawk. They may communicate using protocols such as CAN, I2C or serial.