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sounds, but I didn’t mind them. I still
find both robot vacuum cleaners
much quieter than either of my
The Neato’s square front seemed
to clean corners better than the
Roomba, but overall the final cleaning
results were not really that different.
Neato Technology —
The rotating laser emitter/receiver
LIDAR module can be seen at the far
end of the Neato chassis in Figure 12.
This affordable LIDAR — shown
opened up to expose the components
in Figure 13 — has created a lot of
interest among robot builders, and it
is the center of some hacker
controversy. The acronym LIDAR is
substitutes LIght for RAdio.
The 360 degree scanning
LIDAR on the Neato series has
a one degree accuracy and a
10 Hz refresh rate, measuring
distance data out to six
meters (almost 20 feet).
It should be noted that
the LIDAR rotates in a single
plane and can only detect
objects positioned within that
plane at about 3-1/2” above
the floor. Software algorithms
allow the robot to map the
room to assure thorough
coverage (as shown back in
Figure 2) and to return to its
charging base when needed.
As most robot builders
have heard, the robotics
community and many hackers
have salivated at the Neato
series of robot vacuum cleaners since
the very first one hit store shelves. Not
only have people removed the module
from both new and used Neato’s, but
they’ve also extracted the different
components to use in similar
Figure 15 shows the LIDAR board
stuck in Play-Doh as a means of
keeping it stable while the guys at
Random Workshop measure the laser
output pulses. I personally like the
vacuum cleaner enough to not rip it
apart to try to use the LIDAR module
in other applications, but there are
Figure 14. Camera and laser mounted in front of a
LIDAR circuit board. Courtesy of Random Workshop.
Figure 15. LIDAR board set in Play-Doh. Courtesy of
Random Workshop blog site.
Figure 16. A demo robot from National Instruments
Figure 12. Neato peeled open to
reveal its LIDAR module.
Figure 13. Top of the Neato