Velodyne HDL-32E: A New High-End Laser Rangefinder

Velodyne HDL-32E Laser Rangefinder

Today Velodyne Lidar introduced the HDL-32E, a new laser rangefinder with 32 simultaneously-operating laser beams that cumulatively output up to 800,000 points per second.  The new laser rangefinder provides full 360° scans at up to 20 Hz with ranges from 5 cm to 100 meters and a vertical field of view from +10° to -30° (datasheet).  The entire device is very compact at just 8.5 cm in diameter and 15 cm tall -- not much larger than a soda can!  The HDL-32E has a list price of $29,900 and is expected to ship in the next few weeks, apparently to meet a pretty hefty initial demand.  The new laser rangefinder is the successor to the Velodyne HDL-64E, a vastly successful device that was pivotal for many DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous cars and even saw applications in cutting-edge music videos.  I have high hopes for this new LIDAR. 

The HDL-32E is about one quarter the size and half the cost of its big brother (the HDL-64E), though it also has half the number of output lasers.  I'm still trying to snag some videos of the new laser rangefinder in operation, or even better, a disassembly video like Bruce Hall's (Velodyne President) teardown of the HDL-64E!  Anyway, the two siblings are shown side-by-side (not to scale!) below: HDL-32E on the left, HDL-64E on the right. 

Velodyne HDL-32E Laser Rangefinder (LIDAR)     Velodyne HDL-64E Laser Rangefinder (LIDAR)


Clearly, there is a trade-off when it comes to 3D imaging technologies; the Velodyne systems are top of the line: long range, frame-rate point clouds, high-accuracy, all-weather casings, etc.  For those on a cheaper budget or less demanding applications, there are always alternatives.  For indoor robots with reduced range requirements, you can always explore the vast array of frame-rate depth cameras (see here and here) that will hit the market shortly.  Alternatively, if you're willing to wait for slow mechanical scans, you can assemble your own 3D laser rangefinder by combining a planar laser rangefinder like the Hokuyo UTM-30LX with Robotis Dynamixel servos (as documented by the Healthcare Robotics Lab).