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We have a winner! Hash79 is the first to demonstrate live data coming from the lidar unit. Good work folks!
[Update 2: I just got an email from Matt Trossen, the CEO of Trossen Robotics. He's offering up another $100 gift-certificate to the bounty! Thanks Matt!]
[Update 3: Got an email from RobotShop, offering to refund the cost of the robot, if you buy it from them! That raises the bounty to $800!]
[Update 4: RobotDynamics, CEO, Fred Nikgohar has put up $200 to the first person that uses the sensor for SLAM between two points on a map. ]
[Update 5: SparkFun has made some good progress on the hack. Details here. Looks like it's 115.2 kbaud serial data at 3.3v logic]
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know about Adafruit's $2000 bounty for hacking the Microsoft Kinect. It's been a huge success, with someone getting useful data from it very quickly. A community has grown up around the project and I'm excited about what we'll see coming from it.
So, I sat there thinking, "hmmm, what a great idea! I wonder what else we can find to hack?" Then it struck me. Many folks have been drooling over the lidar that's included in the Neato Robotics XV-11 floor vacuuming robot. In fact, Neato claimed that the sensor itself could be made for about $30. Now, currently you have to buy the whole robot ($399), but that's still a great deal for a 360 degree scanning lidar with 1 degree accuracy and 10 Hz refresh rate. While it's not quite as cool as the Kinect, it has the potential to be very useful for smaller and lighter robots that aren't equipped with the processing power to utilize the RGB and depth data from the Kinect.
Ok, so here's the deal
$401 (thanks RobotNV and Matt Trossen!) is up for grabs, plus $399 to refund the cost of the robot (if you get it from RobotShop) to the first person that show the lidar from the Neato Robotics XV-11 floor vacuuming robot outputting useful data to a computer and leaves a comment here. The project has to be documented and the data has to be 360 degrees of distance readings. All source code and documentation must be released under an open source license. We'd love to see serial data being plotted showing a 360 plot of distance around the sensor.
Anyone can give this a shot. The bounty will be paid in cash (via PayPal), or via gift certificate if there's no way to get cash to you. Upload your code and documentation to an online repository like Github.
Someone has uploaded a copy of the conference paper describing the Neato sensor. Looks like a standard serial interface.
SparkFun has a nice teardown with some tasty info on the sensor! It's using 115,200 baud serial with 3.3v logic symbols. Reading the data with a terminal program shows when the device is spinning and spits out data - probably distance info of some sort.
If you have any questions/comments leave them in the comments below. I think this'll be fun. Hopefully we can pick up some more prize sponsors in the process (thanks already to Trossen Robotics, RobotNV, and RobotShop).