After appearances at this year’s CES and AWE, robotics startup SlamTech’s flagship laser range scanner RPLiDAR A3 made its domestic debut at the 2018 Shanghai International Technology Fair.
Founded in 2009, SlamTech is a Shanghai-based laser sensor manufacturer whose main products include the low-cost 360-degree laser scanning ranging radar RPLiDAR, the laser-based modular autonomous positioning navigation solution SLAMWARE, and the ZEUS robot service platform for business. The company raised US$22 million in funding in July 2017.
SlamTech says its new RPLiDAR A3, which uses a triangulation measuring technique, outperforms other products on the market.
In the past it was thought that a triangulation system’s effective measuring distance was limited to 20 metres while sampling less than 10,000 data points per second. Triangulation sensing was also affected by ambient outdoor light. Time-of-flight (TOF) sensing was the alternative method for handling more complex environments.
With its 25 metre range radius, the A3 can map and localize more spacious environments while maintaining a high measuring accuracy for long distances. Good sampling rates are key to constructing maps appropriate for fast-moving robots. The A3 can sample 16,000 data points per second, better than some TOF-based LiDARS, which are known for creating very dense point clouds.
The A3’s brushless motor reduces mechanical friction and noise in comparison to the previous belt-driven A1. The LiDAR also has a new outdoor work mode designed to reduce daylight interference for objects that are far away or under direct sunlight. RPLiDAR A3’s reduced 4cm profile also suits the needs of service robot makers.
Customized internal mechanical parts have downsized RPLiDAR A3 to only 4-cm thick, which suits service robots very well.
The LiDAR employs a low-energy IR light source that emits short laser pulses safe to human/pet eyes. Its OPTMAG technology reduces failures caused by physical wear to extend hardware life to up to five years.
Market research agency Global Market Insights forecasts the international LiDAR market will reach US$1.1 billion by 2023. Current market solutions are pricey for self-driving cars, and Chinese hardware startups are seizing this as an opportunity. SlamTech’s Shenzhen neighbour Robosense is also an emerging force in the domestic market.
Localization: Tingting Cao| Editor: Meghan Han, Michael Sarazen