Instead of taking a step-and-read approach, the RPLIDAR drives the rotating scanner with a DC motor, continuously taking readings and making note of the scanner's angle with each one. Because of this approach, a single revolution is not guaranteed to give a reading for each possible angle, but over several rotations a full scan can be assembled.

The animation below shows a different mechanical approach (using a rotating mirror instead of a rotating sensor) and only covers 180 degrees, but the concept is identical. It shows the general theory of operation: readings taken at different angles, combined to provide a map of distances from the sensor. Using this data a system can get a sense of the space around it.

In the public domain by Wikipedia user Mike1024

This guide was first published on Mar 19, 2019. It was last updated on Nov 29, 2023.

This page (360 Degree LIDAR) was last updated on Feb 21, 2019.

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