Up until recently, I worked at Neato Robotics in the bay area, on their next generation robot vacuum. As part of that project, I became fairly familiar with how to control and acquire data from their famous Botvac LDS — laser distance scanner — which has become fairly popular in the hobby robotics realm due to its low cost and integration with ROS. Often, that integration is done with the whole Botvac robot owing to its USB serial port and open command line access to sensor data and motor movements.
Recently I learned that there are, not surprisingly, some Chinese laser scanners that look eerily like the Neato one. These scanners boast longer ranges and smaller size, and a similar price on Amazon. I’m interested in figuring out how much these are direct copies of the Neato LDS vs. a reimagining / reengineering of it. So, I went ahead and purchased both an RPLiDAR A1M8 and a YDLIDAR X4.