From MobileRobots Research and Academic Customer Support
A laser rangefinder uses infrared laser light to detect distance to obstacles. Laser rangefinders used with MobileRobots platforms are scanning laser rangefinders which detect obstacles in front of the sensor in a horizontal plane (field of view differs depending on model of laser rangefinder and how it is mounted on a robot). Some researchers also place lasers on at different angles or on a movable joint as well, thought ARNL and MOGS currently only use a laser mounted horizontally.
On some robots, the sensor is mounted upside down, but the order of readings can then be inverted automatically in ARIA or other software to compensate.
Laser rangefinders provide a relatively high resolution, accurate and stable profile of detected obstacle points in its scanning plane at ranges of approximately 0-30 meters, and so are very useful for robot localization within a known space (map), and navigation, for example by using ARNL.
Most laser rangefinders will accurately detect all solid, nonreflective and nontransparent objects. Mirrors, highly reflective metal finishes such as chrome and some auto paint surfaces, glass, thick fog and precipitation however can result in erroneous or undesired readings. Lower powered lasers such as the URG also can fail to detect dark surfaces that absorb infrared light.
For laser rangefinder manuals, see Manuals#Laser_Rangefinders
Most laser rangefinders are Class 1 laser devices. Refer to safety and warning labels on the laser rangefinder device and in the laser rangefinder manual and other documentation provided by the laser rangefinder original manufacturer for more information.