Laser distance sensors such as LIDAR are useful for many outdoor robotic vehicles, but their high cost and complexity precludes their use in low-cost applications, while other low-cost depth sensing technologies are not suitable for outdoor use. We present a low-cost, smartphone-based planar laser distance sensor design for outdoor use with 6 cm accuracy at 5 meters, 30 Hz scan rate, and 0.1 degree resolution over the field of view. The cost of the hardware additions to the off-the-shelf smartphone used in our prototype is under $50.
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