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Design and implementation of a 3D range scanner for mobile robots

In an efficient autonomous navigation and exploration, the robots should sense the environment as exactly as possible in real-time and act correctly on the basis of the acquired 3D data. Laser scanners have been used for the last 30 years for mobile robot navigation. However, they often did not enough speed, accuracy and field of view. In this paper we present the design and implementation of a scanning platform, which can be used for both outdoor and indoor mobile robot navigation and mapping. A 3D scanning platform based on a 2D laser rangefinder was designed in compact way for fast and accurate mapping with maximum field of view. The range finder is rotated around the vertical axis to extract the 3D indoor information. However, the scanner is designed to be placed in any direction on a mobile robot. The designed mechanism provides 360 degrees degree horizontal by 240 degrees degree vertical field of view. The maximum resolution is 0.36 degrees degrees in elevation and variable in azimuth (0.1 degrees if scanning platform is set to complete a 360 degrees degree rotation in 3.6 seconds). The proposed low cost compact design is tested by scanning a physical environment with known dimensions to show that it can be used as a precise and reliable high quality 3D sensor for autonomous mobile robots.