Overview

Distance display as it moves toward and away from the pillar directly ahead.

LiDAR (an acronym for light detection and ranging) is a technology that measures the distance to a target by shining a pulsed laser light on it and analyzing the reflections.

The surface that you are bouncing the laser light off of will impact how good of a reading you get. Smooth, reflective surfaces will tend to bounce the light away from the sensor depending on the angle at which the light is hitting the surface. If the light is coming straight at the surface, it will reflect directly back and you will get a good reading. The further from straight-on you get, the poorer of a reading you will get, eventually you'll get no reading at all. Glass, mirrors, and any highly polished surface will be have this way.

sensors_smooth_reflection.png
From the Garmin LiDAR Lite datasheet

If the surface is rougher (i.e. not smooth) light will reflect off in various directions, some of it making it back to the sensor and giving a reading. Examples are paper, wood (not highly polished), and pets.

sensors_diffuse_reflection.png
From the Garmin LiDAR Lite datasheet

For more information, see the Wikipedia page on reflection.

LiDAR is often seen used with a rotating sensor that takes distance readings at various angles as the sensor assembly rotates. This provides distances in a circle around the sensor. This data can then be used to construct 2D maps.

Autonomous vehicles (i.e. self driving cars) often use LiDAR to map out the space around them.

The Garmin LiDAR Lite is a simple, non-rotating sensor that measures the distance to the target it is pointed at.

In this guide we will build a range finder, or electronic tape measure if you like, using the new Garmin Lidar-Lite. This is a laser based distance sensor that works by bouncing a modulated laser beam against an surface and measuring how long it take for a reflection to come back.

Garmin LIDAR-Lite Optical Distant Sensor - V3

PRODUCT ID: 4058
You've heard about the sensors in the news, when used in self-driving cars, and now you can have your own! Garmin's LIDAR-Lite V3 is the ideal high-performance...
$129.95
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Adafruit Feather M4 Express - Featuring ATSAMD51

PRODUCT ID: 3857
It's what you've been waiting for, the Feather M4 Express featuring ATSAMD51. This Feather is fast like a swift, smart like an owl, strong like a ox-bird (it's half ox,...
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Adafruit 0.56" 4-Digit 7-Segment FeatherWing Display - Red

PRODUCT ID: 3108
One segment? No way dude! 7-Segments for life!This is the Red Adafruit 0.56" 4-Digit 7-Segment Display w/ FeatherWing Combo Pack! We also have these combo...
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Short Headers Kit for Feather - 12-pin + 16-pin Female Headers

PRODUCT ID: 2940
These two Short Female Headers alone are, well, lonely. But pair them with any of our 
$1.50
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Short Feather Male Headers - 12-pin and 16-pin Male Header Set

PRODUCT ID: 3002
These two Short Male Headers alone are, well, lonely. But pair them with any of our 
$0.50
IN STOCK

Lithium Ion Polymer Battery - 3.7v 1200mAh

PRODUCT ID: 258
Lithium ion polymer (also known as 'lipo' or 'lipoly') batteries are thin, light and powerful. The output ranges from 4.2V when completely charged to 3.7V. This battery...
$9.95
IN STOCK

PowerBoost 1000 Charger - Rechargeable 5V Lipo USB Boost @ 1A

PRODUCT ID: 2465
PowerBoost 1000C is the perfect power supply for your portable project! With a built-in load-sharing battery charger circuit, you'll be able to keep your power-hungry...
$19.95
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Breadboard-friendly SPDT Slide Switch

PRODUCT ID: 805
These nice switches are perfect for use with breadboard and perfboard projects. They have 0.1" spacing and snap in nicely into a solderless breadboard. They're easy to switch...
$0.95
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1 x Power filtering capacitor
The datasheet calls for a 680 uF electrolytic across the power connection, but a 470 uF seems to work fine.
This guide was first published on Dec 29, 2018. It was last updated on Dec 29, 2018. This page (Overview) was last updated on Dec 29, 2018.