New SICK Laser Rangefinder (LMS 100) Designed to Compete with Hokuyo (UTM-30LX)?

I've been meaning to mention this for some time now...  SICK has released a "new" laser rangefinder, the LMS 100.  This laser rangefinder seems to be a departure from the classic "coffee-pot" look of yore (i.e. SICK LMS 291).  In fact, it's form-factor and specifications are quite similar to the Hokuyo UTM-30LX; it seems like the LMS 100 might be SICK's strategic response to the "budget" LIDAR manufacturer's (Hokuyo's) burgeoning popularity among indoor roboticists.  Priced at $5000 USD ($1000 less with academic discounts), I'm curious how it actually compares in performance (in the field) to the $5600 Hokuyo UTM -- can anyone weigh in?  Read on for a comparison of specifications.



SICK LMS 100 Laser RangeFinder (LIDAR)

The SICK LMS 100 is a new laser rangefinder with improved form-factor, power requirements, etc. that is well-tailored to robotic applications; in many ways, it seems to be SICK's strategic response to the Hokuyo line of compact laser rangefinders. The SICK LMS 100 costs approximately $5000, and sports a 50 Hz scan rate over a 270° range, with 0.25° angular resolution. Their sensing range is 18 meters (at 10% reflectivity, max range of 20 meters), with an error of about 20mm. This new form factor is more compact (10.6 x 10.2 x 15.2 cm), weighing in at only 1.1kg. They require approximately 12 Watts of power, operating off on a 10.9-30.0VDC supply.

More detailed specifications for the SICK LMS 100 can be found here


Hokuyo UTM-30LX

Hokuyo UTM-30LX Laser Range Finder (LIDAR)The Hokuyo UTM-30LX is a newer laser rangefinder from Hokuyo, with improved capabilities compared to its little brother, the Hokuyo URG-04LX (which was very popular among indoor robots).  Though it costs almost twice as much at $5600 (from distributors such as Acroname), it has greatly enhanced capabilities.  For example, the UTM has an increased scan range of 30 meters, with a 40 Hz scan rate over 270° range and 0.25° angular resolution.  Compared to the URG, these improved specs come at the cost of more power (8.4 Watts at 12VDC) and slightly larger form factor (6.0 x 6.0 x 8.5 cm).  It also performs better with absorptive surfaces (black wall trimmings are no longer problematic), and it is capable of returning intensity values in addition to range.  It seems that this laser rangefinder is a direct competitor to the SICK LMS 100, which has similar specifications and cost.

More detailed specifications of the Hokuyo UTM-30LX can be found here.



The LMS100 is not intended to be a knock-off of the Hokuyo UTM-30LX.  In fact it may be the other way around.  SICK is a leading innovator of laser scanning technology.  The LMS100 is a derivative of the S300 safet laser scanner which has been on the market for over two years (since 2007) and in development much longer than that.  The S300 is a derivative of the larger S3000, which itself is a derivative of the PLS which had been on the market since the 1990s (retired in 2008). 

The LMS line of ranging products and the closely related S30xx series of laser safety scanners have long been preferred scanning laser ranging devices by universities and industry.  It has many applications other than robotics, including, most prominently, Automated Guided Vehicles, where it enjoys global dominance.


Whether one is a knock-off of the other or not does not speak to what the performace characteristics of each is. Just from looking at this post it appears that the Hokuyo is still significantly smaller which is going to be a driving factor for use on smaller robots such as the iRobot Packbot and Foster-Miller Talon.

It would still be interesting to hear from someone who has compared the actual performance of both.


I agree with aspects from both comments. 

SICK is certainly a pioneer and industry leader in the field of laser rangefinders; their focus is largely on industrial applications or large robots (such as AGVs, as in the DARPA Grand Challenges) that require robustness. 

However, Hokuyo has become something of a "standard" (at least based on my own personal observations of robotics labs across the country)  among smaller and/or indoor robots for the "budget" laser rangefinders.

I agree with the commenter above... whether one was designed to compete with the other is a moot point; it's all about the specifications.  However, I'm still excited to see the trend toward low-cost, "budget" LRFs.   In fact, this reminds me of a paper at ICRA 2008 about a sub-$30 laser range finder being developed by Silicon Valley robotics startup Neato Robotics. I'd really like to learn more about their plans and aspirations for their laser range finder...


—Travis Deyle

Can anyone point me toward a vendor that offers academic discounts on Hokuyo sensors?  Have they found the price is less than Acroname?


—Andrew O'Brien

I am absolutly going to stick with Sick LMS 100. Just from the sure fact that i have been using it for about 2 years and find no problems. The Hokuyo that you have details about makes it look really good. I might have to try it out and see what it is about.

An important feature not mentioned in the description is the Double-echo technology used by SICK in the LMS100. First time used by SICK in their LRFs. This allows the LMS100 to perform very well in dusty environments, fog and even behind glass surface! This is not available in the Hokuyo units.

I heard HOKUYO UTM will also have Multi-echo techonology(not double, max 6 echo) at IROS2009.

I saw demo of the technology at their booth of  exhibition.


@ both anonymous,

Will double-echo report the presence of glass?  That's what I'd really like to have...

—Travis Deyle
Does anyone know about the latency of these devices? Nowhere I could find any information about latency of LRFs. Thank you.