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Comparison of two 2D laser scanners for sensing object


distances, shapes, and surface patterns
Kyeong-Hwan Lee, Reza Ehsani
University of Florida, IFAS, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Citrus Research and Education Center,
700 Experiment Station Road, Lake Alfred, FL 33850, USA

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:

Laser scanners are increasingly used in automation and robotic applications as a sensing

Received 25 April 2007

device for navigation and safety. They have agricultural applications in measuring plant

Received in revised form

growth rate, tree volume, tree count, 3D imaging, and pattern recognition. Laser scanners

10 July 2007

are commercially available, but there is very little published information on characteristics

Accepted 17 August 2007

and performance of these laser scanners. This study compared two laser scanners, the Sick
LMS200 and the Hokuyo URG-04LX, for measurement drift over time, the effect of material

Keywords:
Laser scanner

and color on measurement accuracy, and the ability to map different surface patterns.
Measurement drift over time was studied by determining the distance between the laser

Measurement drift

scanner sensor and a stationary object at different xed distances and angles. Distance

Measurement accuracy

measurements over time uctuated with a peak-to-peak value of 1020 mm. The settling
time, which is the time required for the averaged distance data to reach a stable level,
increased when measurement distance increased but for a given distance, the settling time
remained constant for different angles. At the measurement angle of 90 , the settling times
for the LMS200 and the URG-04LX for 50% of the maximum scanner measurement distances
were 53 min and 70 min, respectively. Therefore, to obtain accurate distance measurements,
the laser scanners should be warmed up for the duration of the settling time before recording
measurement data.
The measured distance for soft material objects, such as a styrofoam plate and a sheet
of dry sponge, was longer than the actual distance. For shiny objects, such as orange tree
leaves, transparency lm, and a stainless steel plate, the measurement distance was shorter
than actual distance. At the measurement angle of 90 , the difference between the longest
and shortest measured distance (90% of the maximum scanner measurement distance) was
21.3 mm for the LMS200 and 29.7 mm for the URG-04LX. At the measurement angle of 45 ,
this difference increased to 73.2 mm for the LMS200; the URG-04LX was not able to detect
any objects at 45 .
The surface shapes of a cylindrical pipe, a folded cardboard plate with a square-shaped
valley, and a folded cardboard plate with a V-shaped valley were well-depicted by the laser
scanner. For the object with a V-shaped valley with a true depth of 6.1 cm, the averaged
depths measured by the LMS200 and URG-04LX were 6.8 cm and 3.6 cm, respectively. The
larger discrepancy in the URG-04LX depth measurement may be caused by the relatively
lower angular resolution of the URG scanner, compared to that of the LMS scanner.
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 863 956 1151x1228; fax: +1 863 956 4631.
E-mail address: ehsani@u.edu (R. Ehsani).
0168-1699/$ see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compag.2007.08.007

c o m p u t e r s a n d e l e c t r o n i c s i n a g r i c u l t u r e 6 0 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 250262

1.

Introduction

For agricultural and industrial applications, the distance to a


target object is a valuable measurement because it can be used
for determining a variety of other measurements. For example, objects in an open space can be detected and counted by
measuring the distances to the objects. Even the positions and
shapes of the objects can be obtained. Distance measurement
can be useful information in generating the surface topography of a target object, like for example, fruit trees. The 3D
image of an object can be also reconstructed using distance
measurements, obtained by moving a sensor in a 2D plane.
With advances in sensing technology, various types of sensors for distance measurement have been developed. Among
them, sensors which use lasers have shown dominance. A
laser is a light source device which converts external energy
into electromagnetic radiation. The word LASER came from
an acronym for light amplication by stimulated emission of
radiation, but it is now accepted as a single word. What differentiates a laser from other light sources is that a laser beam
has a single wavelength, a same phase, and high energy density. Thus, a laser beam can travel to quite a long distance in
a straight line, maintaining a narrow beam. Because of this
characteristic, lasers are commonly used as a sensing source
for distance measurement.
A laser scanner, which is also called a laser radar or a laser
range nder, is a non-contact optical device that measures the
distance to an object in a scanning eld using a pulsed laser
beam. The scanners measurement is based on the time-ofight (TOF) principle. A laser source inside the scanner emits
a pulsed laser beam. If this beam hits an object, part of the
beam is reected back to the scanner and hits a detector inside
the scanner. The time between transmission and reception
of the pulsed signal is directly proportional to the distance
between the scanner and the object. The laser pulse is diverted
sequentially with a specic angular interval using an internal
rotating mirror. Thus, a fan-shaped two-dimensional scan is
made of the surrounding area.
Laser scanners are becoming a common sensing device to
aid the steering device to avoid obstacles, and in mapping
environments for use in robotics and agricultural applications.

Jimenez
et al. (1999) built a laser scanner-based measurement
system to recognize fruits in eld tree conditions, considering it as a sensing device for a fruit-harvesting robot. The
scanner provided the distance to an object and the attenuation of laser signal which occurred in the round-trip travel
to the object. The information obtained was merged to recognize the fruit and nd the nal fruit position. Hebert (2000)
compared the characteristics of several range sensing technologies used in robotics. The measurement range of a laser
scanner using the TOF principle was relatively long, compared to other technologies. The scanner provided relatively
stable, accurate measurements under hostile environmental
conditions such as fog, dust, or smoke. Monta et al. (2004)
built a three-dimensional sensing system, composed of a laser
scanner and a scanner table moving vertically, for an agricultural robot. The sensing system could detect objects such as
tree trunks, branches, and leaves in a vineyard, and calculate
the diameter of the tree trunk and the distance between the

251

tree trunks. Kise et al. (2005) presented an obstacle detection


and identication algorithm of a laser scanner-based sensing system for autonomous agricultural vehicles. The sensing
system was capable of detecting a moving object within a
semicircle of an 8 m radius and reconstructing a 2D silhouette of the obstacle progressively in real time. Subramanian et
al. (2006) developed machine vision and laser scanner-based
guidance systems to navigate a tractor through the alleyway
of a citrus grove and compared the performance of these
systems. They reported that the laser scanner-based guidance was the better guidance system for straight and curved
paths.
Measuring the surface topography of soil and plants or
knowing the shape of an object is important for many precision agriculture applications. For this, laser scanners have
shown great potential. Darboux and Huang (2003) developed
a laser scanning system composed of two diode lasers and
a digital camera to measure soil surface microtopography.
Gonzalez et al. (2007) demonstrated the capability of a 3D
laser scanning system, which consisted of a laser transmitter
and two cameras, in describing the evolution of an underwater sediment bed in real time. Ehsani and Lang (2002)
developed a laser scanner-based plant volume measurement
system. The system was able to measure plant volume and
height, indicating the possibility to measure the biomass
and leaf area index of the plant. Wei and Salyani (2004,
2005) showed the potential of a laser scanner for simultaneous measurement of tree canopy height, width, volume,
and foliage density. While applications of laser scanners in
automation, robotics, and agriculture are increased signicantly in the recent years, very little published information
is available on characteristics and performance of these laser
scanners.

2.

Objectives

The overall goal of this study was to analyze and compare the
characteristics of two commercially available laser scanners.
The specic objectives were: (i) to test distance-measurement
drifts over time at different measurement distances and
angles, (ii) to examine the effect of different materials and
colors of target objects on distance measurements, and (iii)
to measure accuracy in mapping the surface patterns of the
objects of different shapes.

3.

Materials and methods

Two laser scanners, LMS200 (Sick Ag, Germany) and URG-04LX


(Hokuyo Automatic Co., Japan), were used for the tests (Fig. 1a).
Their specications, provided from the manufacturers, are
shown in Table 1. The LMS200 has a longer measurement distance, larger size, and is heavier compared to the URG-04LX.
It also has the ability to change angular resolution. To control
the scanners and download the measurements to a computer,
a computer program was written using LabVIEW (National
Instruments Co., Austin, TX).

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Fig. 1 Laser scanners (a) and steel stand (b).

3.1.

Laser scanners

3.1.1.

LMS200

The light source of the LMS200 is a pulsed infrared laser of


905 nm, not visible to the human eyes. It operates in either mm
mode or cm mode. The maximum measurement distances are
8 m in the mm mode and 80 m in the cm mode. The LMS200
has two scanning range options: (i) from 40 to 140 with angular resolutions of 0.25 , 0.5 , and 1 , and (ii) from 0 to 180
with angular resolutions of 0.5 and 1 . The times for scanning one cycle are 53.28 ms, 26.64 ms, and 13.32 ms at 0.25 ,
0.5 , and 1 angular resolutions, respectively, in both scanning ranges. The scanner requires about 13.32 ms for one cycle
rotation of an internal mirror with a 1 step. To achieve 0.25
and 0.5 angular resolutions, the 1 step is shifted to 0.25 and
0.5 at the start of the mirror wheel rotation, respectively, and
four and two mirror rotations are required. For this reason, a
scan with an angular resolution of 0.5 takes as twice as long
as a scan with an angular resolution of 1 ; and a scan with
an angular resolution of 0.25 takes four times as long. The

laser scanner can communicate with a computer via a serial


port at a baud rate of 9.6 kbit/s, 19.2 kbit/s, and 38.4 kbit/s. For
high-speed data transmission, the manufacturer offers special
high-speed data interface cards. With the cards, the baud rate
can increase up to 500 kbit/s. Our test results indicated that
some of the collected data were occasionally lost when communication took place at 500 kbit/s via a PCMCIA high-speed
RS422 interface card (CSM GmbH, Germany), while no data
was lost at the slower speed of 38.4 kbit/s. Thus, for more reliable communication between the scanner and the computer,
a 38.4 kbit/s data transfer rate was chosen for the experiment.
The LMS200 ran in the mm mode and scanned target objects
in the range of 40140 with an angular resolution of 0.25 .

3.1.2.

URG-04LX

The URG-04LX uses a semiconductor laser beam of 785 nm to


measure distance. It has a xed scanning range of 60300 with
a 0.36 angular resolution. Its maximum measurement distance is 4 m when an object is white paper. The scanner and
external devices can interface with each other via a RS232 port

Table 1 Specications of the LMS200 and URG-04LX


LMS200
Maximum measurement distance (m)
Scanning angle ( )
Angular resolution ( )
Scanning time (ms/cycle)
Measurement resolution (mm)
Measurement error (mm)

8 (mm mode), 80 (cm mode)


180 and 100 (selectable)
0.25, 0.5, and 1 (selectable)
53, 26, and 13 at 0.25 , 0.5 , and 1 angular
resolution, respectively
10
20 (mm mode), 40 (cm mode)

Data interface and transfer rate

RS232 and RS422 (9.6 kbit/s, 19.2 kbit/s,


38.4 kbit/s, and 500 kbit/s)

Supply voltage (VDC)


Current consumption (mA)
Weight (kg)
External dimensions (mm)

24 15%
830
4.5
185 (W) 156 (L) 210 (H)

URG-04LX
4
240
0.36
100
1
10: up to 1 m distance; 1% of distance:
14 m distance
RS232 (19.2 kbit/s, 57.6 kbit/s, 115.2 kbit/s,
500 kbit/s, and 750 kbit/s), USB 2.0
(12 Mbit/s)
5 5%
500
0.16
50 (W) 50 (L) 70 (H)

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with a baud rate of 19.2750 kbit/s and a USB port with a baud
rate of 12 Mbit/s. In this study, the scanner communicated with
the computer via a USB port.

and 700 lx, and the temperature was between 12 C and 20 C.


Before the tests, the power of the scanners was shut off for
about 10 h.

3.2.

3.2.2.

3.2.1.

Experimental methods
Drift test

Experiments were designed to test measurement drifts of the


laser scanners over a given period of time. The laser scanners were placed on a stand at a height of 96 cm. A steel stand
(Fig. 1b) was made to place a target object at a certain distance
with a constant height. The stand was designed with the capability of attaching a target object to the backside of the opening
square on the stand. A laser beam passes through the opening (25 cm 25 cm) and hits the surface of the target object.
For the tests, a sheet of white paper (30 cm 30 cm) was used
as the target object.
The stands were placed at angles () of 45 , 90 , and
135 , facing the scanners (Fig. 2a). The intended distances
(D) between the object and the scanners were 0.8 m, 4.0 m,
and 7.2 m for the LMS200, and 0.4 m, 2.0 m, and 3.6 m for the
URG-04LX, which are 10%, 50%, and 90% of the maximum measurement distances of the scanners, respectively. It was hard
to measure the true distance between the object and the scanners because the laser beam detector, which is the reference
point on the scanner for distance measurement, is inside the
sealed case of the scanners. Therefore, to keep intended distances constant for each test, a new reference point was made
on the outside of the scanner housing. A point at which a
power plug and a communication plug meet was set as the
new reference point on the LMS200 (Fig. 1a). On the URG-04LX,
a marker indicating the front of the scanner was used as the
new reference point (Fig. 1a).
At 50% of the maximum scanner measurement distances,
distance data were collected at 45 , 90 , and 135 simultaneously every second for 4 h. This test was repeated at 10% and
90% of the maximum measurement distances. These experiments were conducted in a room illuminated with uorescent
lamps. The light intensity of the room was between 650 lx

Test on objects of different materials and colors

For examining the effect of different materials and colors of objects on distance measurement, 11 target objects
(30 cm 30 cm) were used. The materials included ve sheets
of colored paper with a 0.5 mm thickness (white, blue, yellow,
red, and black), a 20-mm thick laminated wood plate, a 2-mm
thick stainless steel plate, a 26-mm thick styrofoam plate, a 25mm thick sheet of sponge, a 4-mil thick sheet of transparency
lm, and a sheet made of orange tree leaves that were afxed
on a transparency lm using double-sided tape without any
free space.
The three intended distances from the scanner to the
object used in the experiment for drift measurement were
also used in this experiment. The target objects were placed at
angles () of 45 and 90 with same distance (D) to the scanner
(Fig. 2b). The objects were turned towards the front so that the
effect of an incidence angle from the laser beam to the surface
of the object on distance measurement could also be studied.
The distance data to the 11 objects were collected rst at 90
for 90% of the maximum scanner measurement distances. The
experimental order of the objects was randomly determined,
and then the test was conducted again at 45 with the same
distance in the new random experimental order of the objects.
These tests were repeated at 10% and 50% of the maximum
scanner measurement distances.
In order to analyze the data, a multiple comparison analysis
was conducted using the multicompare function in MATLABs statistics toolbox (The MathWorks Inc., Natick, MA, Ver
5.1). The multicompare function follows Tukeys procedure,
which is based on the Studentized range distribution.

3.2.3.

Determining the laser beam spot size

Immediately after the test on the objects of different materials


and colors at a certain angle and distance, another experiment
was conducted to investigate the size of the laser beam spot

Fig. 2 Schematic of the experimental setup (top view) (a) for drift measurement and (b) for testing objects of different
materials and colors.

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Fig. 3 Objects for generating surface patterns: (a) cylindrical pipe, (b) folded cardboard plate with square-shaped valleys,
and (c) folded cardboard plate with V-shaped valleys. Distances in cm.

at the same angle and distance. The square stand opening


was blocked using two sets of two sheets of white paper. By
moving one set of two sheets of paper horizontally from the
center to the left-hand side and right-hand side, respectively,
and the other set of two sheets of papers vertically from the
center to the top and bottom, respectively, a small rectangular
open area was made at the center of the opening. When the
laser beam, generated at a single angle, passed through the
rectangular opening, the papers were xed. The rectangular
opening was considered as the approximate size of the laser
beam spot at the angle and distance.

3.2.4. Generating surface patterns of objects of different


shapes
Experiments for investigating the capability of the scanners in
generating the surface patterns of objects of different shapes
were designed. For the tests, three objects shown in Fig. 3 were
prepared: (i) a cylindrical pipe, (ii) a folded cardboard plate
with square-shaped valleys, and (iii) a folded cardboard plate
with V-shaped valleys. The size of the cardboard plates was
91 cm (W) 15 cm (H). These objects were put on a table with
adjustable height. The table was xed at a height at which the
laser beam hit the mid-height of the objects. The objects were
also positioned where the laser beam, generated at 90 , hit
the center of the objects. The intended distance between the
scanners and the objects was 100 cm.
To build the surface patterns of the objects, the parallel
distance (P) between the scanner and the object was calculated from the measured distance (M) and the measurement
angle () using the denition of the sine trigonometric function
(Fig. 4):
P = M sin 

(1)

The diameter of the cylindrical pipe and the width (D) of


the hill in the square-shaped object were obtained based on
the distances (R1 and R2 ) and measurement angles ( 1 and  2 ),
which were measurements at the right-most and left-most
edges of the objects, respectively (Fig. 5):
D=

R12 + R22 2R1 R2 cos(2 1 )

(2)

Fig. 4 Geometry for obtaining the parallel distance


between the laser scanner and an object.

4.

Results and discussion

4.1.

Measurement drift

Distance measurements by the LMS200 over time at an


intended distance of 4.0 m and three different angles (45 , 90 ,
and 135 ) are shown in Fig. 6. The distance data uctuated
with a peak-to-peak value of about 20 mm. The period of the
uctuation at about 2 min of run time was in the range of
0.30.5 min. The period increased with run time, and was in
the range of 1520 min when the run time reached 200 min.
To examine the trend of measurement drift, the distance data
were averaged every 20 min. This time interval was selected
because the longest period of the uctuation was close to the
time interval. The averaged distance data decreased with run
time until about 53 min, and then stayed at a constant level. In
this stable region, the averaged distance data at 45 , 90 , and
135 differed a little from each other. This might be caused by
the difference of the distance between the scanner and the
object at each angle.

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Fig. 5 Geometry for obtaining the width of an object.

255

The differences between the averaged distance data at


2 min and that at 53 min were 7.8 mm, 7.7 mm, and 5.7 mm
at 45 , 90 , and 135 , respectively. These were considered as
the measurement errors caused only by insufcient warm-up
time of the laser scanner. The effect of measurement angle on
measurement drift was trivial. The pattern of the averaged distance data over time at an intended distance of 4.0 m (Fig. 6)
was also observed in the data measured at 0.8 m and 7.2 m.
The settling time, which is the time required for the averaged
distance data to reach a stable level, was different depending
on measurement distances.
Fig. 7 presents distance measurements by the LMS200 at
an angle of 135 for three intended distances (0.8 m, 4.0 m, and
7.2 m). Like the data measured at a constant distance for different angles (Fig. 6), the distance measurements shown in Fig. 7
uctuated. Again, the averaged distance data decreased with
run time at the beginning of the scanners operation, and then
began to stabilize at a settling time. The averaged distances
in the stable regions deviated from the intended distances.
This may have been caused by disagreement between the
location of the new reference point on the scanners and the
location of the laser beam detector inside the sealed case. In
addition, these could have been inaccurate distance measurement using a tape measurement when the scanner and the

Fig. 6 Distance measurements by the LMS200 at an intended distance of 4.0 m for the angles: (a) 45 , (b) 90 , and (c) 135 .

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Fig. 7 Distance measurements by the LMS200 at 135 for the intended distances: (a) 7.2 m, (b) 4.0 m, and (c) 0.8 m.

object were setup before the test. The settling times at 0.8 m,
4.0 m, and 7.2 m distances were 32 min, 53 min, and 137 min,
respectively, showing the settling time increases when the
measurement distance increases. The differences between
the averaged distance at 2 min of run time and that at the
settling times were 2.4 mm, 5.7 mm, and 14.1 mm at 0.8 m,
4.0 m, and 7.2 m, respectively. This shows a measurement
error caused by insufcient warm-up time of the laser scanner
increases when measurement distance increases.
From this experiment, it was shown that in order to measure the distance to an object accurately, the LMS200 needs
to warm up for some time before measurement. The required
warm-up time differs depending on measurement distance
and the data measured should be averaged over a specic time
interval.
Distance measurements by the URG-04LX at a single angle
of 135 for three intended distances of 0.4 m, 2.0 m, and 3.6 m
are shown in Fig. 8. Like the distance measurements by the
LMS200 (Fig. 7), the distance data shown in Fig. 8 also uctuated with a peak-to-peak value of about 1015 mm. The
amplitude of the uctuation tended to be larger when the

measurement distance increased, but the period of the uctuation was not recognizable. The distance data, averaged
every 20 min, presented a different pattern with that of the
averaged distance data measured by the LMS200 (Fig. 7). The
averaged distances increased in the beginning of the scanners operation at the intended distances of 0.4 m and 2.0 m,
which had settling times of 50 min and 70 min, respectively.
At an intended distance of 3.6 m, the averaged distance began
to decrease, reached a bottom limit at 70 min, increased
until 111 min, and then stabilized. The averaged distances
at the settling times were quite different with the intended
distances. This might also have been caused by inaccurate
distance setup between the scanner and the object before
the test. The settling time was larger when the measurement
distance increased. The differences between the averaged distance at 2 min of run time and that at the settling times were
9.3 mm, 12.3 mm, and 4.1 mm at intended distances of 0.4 m,
2.0 m, and 3.6 m, respectively. Thus, like the LMS200, the URG04LX should also be warmed up for the settling time before the
test to minimize measurement error, and the distance data
should be averaged. In the test with the URG-04LX at a single

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257

Fig. 8 Distance measurements by the URG-04LX at 135 for the intended distances: (a) 3.6 m, (b) 2.0 m, and (c) 0.4 m.

distance for three different angles, the distance measurement


was not affected by the angles.

4.2.
Effect of different materials and colors of objects
on distance measurements
The previous experimental results demonstrated that some
warm-up settling time is required for the laser scanners to
provide stable distance measurements (Figs. 68). The highest
settling time for the LMS at a distance of 7.2 m was 137 min.
The longest period of the uctuating distance data was about
1520 min in the stable region. Thus, to avoid error in the
distance measurement by insufcient warm-up time of the
scanners and a short data-sampling period, the tests were
started after running the scanners for 3 h without data collection. The scanners recorded 1000 readings on each object,
which roughly corresponded to one period of the uctuating
distance data in the stable region.
Tables 2 and 3 show the mean and standard deviation
of distance measurements to each object by the LMS200 at
intended distances of 0.8 m and 7.2 m, respectively, and the

results of multiple comparison analysis at the distances. The


mean distances of the objects were sorted in an ascending
order of alphabet indexes in the multiple comparison column. When the objects have the same index, there is no
signicant difference among them in a 95% condence level.
In general, the shortest distance measurements were found
with shiny objects such as orange tree leaves, transparency
lm, and a stainless steel plate. The longest distance measurements were found with objects made of soft materials
such as styrofoam and dry sponge. In particular, the distance
measurement to the transparent lm was very sensitive to
measurement angles. At 45 , the transparent lm could not be
detected by the LMS200. Some portion of the laser beam might
penetrate the lm, and a large portion of the beam bounced
off the lm might be deviated from the route to the scanner.
Thus, the amount of the laser beam returning to the scanner
may have been insufcient for the scanner to detect the target object. When a laser beam is directed towards an object
of high reectivity such as a stainless steel plate, most of the
beam is bounced off the object immediately after hitting it
and comes back to the scanner. However, when the object has

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Table 2 Mean, standard deviation, and multiple comparison analysis of distance measurements to the different objects
by the LMS200 at an intended distance of 0.8 m
45

Material
Mean (mm)
Tree leaves
Blue paper
Black paper
Yellow paper
Red paper
Wood plate
White paper
Steel plate
Styrofoam
Sponge
Transparency

788.4
789.4
790.2
790.4
791.8
792.1
793.8
799.9
802.3
811.1

S.D. (mm)
3.8
3.8
1.7
1.6
5.0
2.5
1.7
3.9
1.6
2.5

90
Multiple comparison*
a
b
c
c
d
d
e
f
g
h

Mean (mm)

S.D. (mm)

788.2
787.5
786.3
785.3
787.2
788.2
788.3
772.1
796.7
802.5
794.4

3.3
4.7
5.0
2.0
4.8
3.5
1.9
1.6
1.9
2.0
9.8

Multiple comparison*
d
cd
c
b
cd
d
d
a
f
g
e

ah represent the alphabet indexes of the multiple comparison analyses. When the objects have the same index, there is no signicant
difference. The condence level of the multiple comparison analyses was 95%.

low reectivity such as sponge, a large portion of the laser


beam is absorbed on the surface of the object for some time,
and then returns to the scanner. Thus, the ight time of the
laser beam to an object of low reectivity is longer than one of
high reectivity, and the distance measurement to the object
of low reectivity is larger. At an intended distance of 0.8 m
(Table 2), the differences between the longest distance measured on the soft objects and the shortest distance measured
on the shiny objects were 22.7 mm and 30.4 mm at 45 and
90 , respectively; at an intended distance of 7.2 m (Table 3),
the differences at 45 and 90 were 73.2 mm and 21.6 mm,
respectively.
The effect of color on distance measurement was more
sensitive at 45 than at 90 . At an intended distance of 0.8 m,
the differences between the longest and shortest distances
on the colored papers at 45 and 90 were 4.4 mm and 3.0 mm,
respectively; at an intended distance of 7.2 m, the differences
at 45 and 90 were 5.0 mm and 2.0 mm, respectively. The
results showed that the effect of the measurement distances
on distance measurement of the different colored objects was
minor.

The mean and standard deviation of distance measurements to the different objects by the URG-04LX at intended
distances of 0.4 m and 3.6 m and the results of multiple comparison analysis are shown in Tables 4 and 5. As observed in
Tables 2 and 3, the shortest distance measurements were also
found with shiny objects and the longest distance measurements were also found with soft objects. The URG-04LX could
not detect transparency lm at 45 for an intended distance
of 0.4 m. The capability of the URG-04LX was not enough to
detect any objects at 45 for an intended distance of 3.6 m.
At an intended distance of 0.4 m (Table 4), the differences
between the longest distance observed at the soft objects and
the shortest distance at the shiny objects at 45 and 90 were
55.4 mm and 21.6 mm, respectively. At an intended distance of
3.6 m (Table 5), the differences at 90 were 29.7 mm. The measurement angles at an intended distance of 0.4 m might not
inuence on the results of the multiple comparison analysis
for the different colored papers. However, at a measurement
angle of 90 , the result of multiple comparison analysis for the
colored papers at an intended distance of 0.4 m might be more
sensitive than that at an intended distance of 3.6 m.

Table 3 Mean, standard deviation, and multiple comparison analysis of distance measurements to the different objects
by the LMS200 at an intended distance of 7.2 m
45

Material

Tree leaves
Steel plate
Wood plate
Blue paper
Black paper
Yellow paper
Red paper
White paper
Styrofoam
Sponge
Transparency

Mean (mm)

S.D. (mm)

7168.6
7169.3
7173.1
7175.1
7175.2
7176.3
7178.6
7180.2
7185.2
7241.8

2.7
4.8
4.5
4.0
4.9
3.8
4.5
2.9
6.7
5.3

90
Multiple comparison*
a
a
b
c
c
d
e
f
g
h

Mean (mm)

S.D. (mm)

7188.0
7178.2
7192.0
7189.4
7187.9
7187.4
7188.4
7188.8
7197.7
7197.4
7176.1

5.0
4.8
2.1
1.5
2.4
2.4
2.6
2.4
3.3
2.3
3.0

Multiple comparison*
cd
b
f
e
cd
c
cde
de
g
g
a

ah represent the alphabet indexes of the multiple comparison analyses. When the objects have the same index, there is no signicant
difference. The condence level of the multiple comparison analyses was 95%.

259

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Table 4 Mean, standard deviation, and multiple comparison analysis of distance measurements to the different objects
by the URG-04LX at an intended distance of 0.4 m
45

Material
Mean (mm)
Steel plate
Black paper
Tree leaves
Wood plate
Blue paper
Yellow paper
Red paper
White paper
Sponge
Styrofoam
Transparency

360.2
397.9
398.8
399.0
399.4
400.5
402.7
405.7
412.6
415.6

S.D. (mm)

90
Multiple comparison*

4.1
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.2
2.4
2.0
2.0

S.D. (mm)

Multiple comparison*

442.6
424.0
424.8
421.9
424.3
427.2
422.9
425.0
428.7
437.5
415.9

2.5
1.8
1.7
1.8
2.0
1.8
1.8
1.6
1.7
1.8
2.8

i
d
e
b
d
f
c
e
g
h
a

a
b
c
c
c
d
e
f
g
h

ah represent the alphabet indexes of the multiple comparison analyses. When the objects have the same index, there is no signicant
difference. The condence level of the multiple comparison analyses was 95%.

4.3.

Table 5 Mean, standard deviation, and multiple


comparison analysis of distance measurements to the
different objects by the URG-04LX at an intended
distance of 3.6 m

Mean (mm)
Steel plate
Blue paper
Red paper
Yellow paper
Black paper
White paper
Tree leaves
Wood plate
Styrofoam
Transparency
Sponge

3643.3
3647.6
3648.3
3648.6
3649.1
3649.5
3649.9
3652.3
3658.1
3666.6
3673.0

S.D. (mm)
3.3
2.9
2.9
3.0
2.9
2.9
3.4
2.9
2.8
2.8
2.9

Determining the laser beam spot size

Table 6 shows the sizes of the laser beam spot, approximated


with a rectangle, for the LMS200 and URG-04LX at different
angles and distances. In the spot for the LMS200, the rectangle corresponded to a single laser beam spot. However,
in the spot for the URG-04LX, it corresponded to three laser
beam spots generated at consecutive three angles. The laser
beam could not be separated to a single beam with physical
methods.
The widths of the rectangles at 45 were greater than
those at 90 . The ratios of the widths at 45 to the widths
at 90 were in the range of 1.631.73 for the LMS200 and
1.251.29 for the URG-04LX, but the heights of the rectangles
at both angles were almost the same. Both the width and
the height of the LMS beam spot increased when measurement distance increased. In the URG beam spot, the width
was greater with increased distance, but the change in height
was minor. The linear regression analysis between the area
(Y) of the laser beam spot and measurement distance (X) was
conducted (Eqs. (3)(6)). The beam spot area increased linearly
with distance. The linear models for the LMS beam at 45
and 90 are:

90

Material

Mean (mm)

Multiple
comparison*
a
b
c
cd
cde
cde
e
f
g
h
i

ai represent the alphabet indexes of the multiple comparison analyses. When the objects have the same index, there is
no signicant difference. The condence level of the multiple
comparison analyses was 95%.

Y = 6.70X 3.52

(R2 = 0.98)

(3)

Y = 3.86X 1.63

(R2 = 0.99)

(4)

Table 6 Sizes of the laser beam spot, approximated with a rectangle, for the LMS200 and URG-04LX at three intended
distances
Distance (m)

Rectangle

LMS200

URG-04LX

45

90

45

90

0.8 for LMS200, 0.4


for URG-04LX

Width (cm)
Height (cm)

2.0
1.8

1.2
1.8

1.5
1.0

1.2
0.9

4.0 for LMS200, 2.0


for URG-04LX

Width (cm)
Height (cm)

5.2
3.8

3.2
3.9

4.0
0.8

3.1
0.9

7.2 for LMS200, 3.6


for URG-04LX

Width (cm)
Height (cm)

8.3
5.6

4.8
5.6

4.8
1.2

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The linear models for the URG beam at 45 and 90 are:


Y = 1.46X + 0.29

(R2 = 0.98)

(5)

Y = 1.06X + 1.08

(R2 = 1.00)

(6)

4.4.

Surface pattern of objects

Fig. 9 shows the surface pattern of a cylindrical pipe generated by the laser scanners. The pattern provided a sketch
of the surface shape of the pipe, but the resolution was not
enough to depict the pipe surface in detail. In the surface pattern generated by the LMS200, the radii of the pipe obtained
by calculating the difference between the highest distance
at the edge and the shortest distance in the middle, and
obtained using the cosine law (Eq. (2)) were 3.5 cm and 3.7 cm,
respectively. The radii were 1.4 cm and 2.8 cm, respectively,
in the surface pattern generated by the URG-04LX. The radii
obtained in the pattern by the LMS were close to the true
radius of 3.5 cm, while the radii obtained in the pattern by the
URG were underestimated. The URG scanner has the lower
angular resolution of 0.36 , compared to the LMS angular resolution of 0.25 . Thus, the URG scanner might miss the rightand left-most edges of the pipe, and this may explain the
reason why the measured radii are smaller than the true
radius.
The surface pattern of an object with at hills and squareshaped valleys generated by the laser scanners are shown in
Fig. 10. The pattern clearly reconstructed the hills and valleys.
The numbers of hills and valleys in the pattern agreed with
those in the actual object. In the pattern by the LMS200, the
widths of the hills and valleys in the middle, left-most, and
right-most were obtained using the cosine law. The widths
of the hills were 6.9 cm, 6.1 cm, and 6.1 cm, respectively; and
the widths of the valleys were 6.1 cm, 4.0 cm, and 4.4 cm,

respectively. The depths of the valleys were 7.2 cm, 7.5 cm,
and 7.8 cm, respectively. In the pattern by the URG-04LX, the
widths of the hills were 6.8 cm, 5.0 cm, and 5.6 cm, respectively; and the widths of the valleys were 6.0 cm, 4.6 cm, and
4.6 cm, respectively. The depths of the valleys were 7.2 cm,
6.6 cm, and 7.0 cm, respectively.
The measured widths of the hills in the middle were close
to the true width of 7.0 cm. The widths of the hills at the left
and right sides were smaller than the true width. Since the
laser beam generated at 90 hit the middle of the object, and
the scanners were in parallel with the object, the resolution
of the surface pattern at the left and right sides became lower
than that in the middle. This might cause the smaller widths
at the left and right sides. The measured widths of the valleys
were much smaller than the true width of 7.0 cm. When the
laser beam was projected on the area of the valley, some of
the beam was blocked by the hill before it reached the valley.
Therefore, the measured widths of the valleys became smaller.
The measured depths of the valleys were close to the true
depth of 7.0 cm.
Fig. 11 shows the surface pattern of an object with V-shaped
valleys generated by the laser scanners. The pattern reconstructed the surface shape of the object well. The numbers
of hills and valleys in the pattern agreed with those in the
actual object. The averaged depths of the valleys in the patterns by the LMS and URG were 6.8 cm and 3.6 cm, respectively.
The depth measured by the URG was much smaller than the
true depth of 6.1 cm. Since the URG scanner has a relatively
larger angular interval (0.36 ), compared to the angular interval (0.25 ) of the LMS, it might miss the crests of the hills and
the bottom limits of the valleys. This might cause to underestimate the depth of the valley. This also can be conrmed
from the fact that the crests of the hills and the bottom limits
of the valleys in the pattern by the LMS are sharper than those
in the pattern of the URG.

Fig. 9 Surface pattern of a cylindrical pipe generated by the LMS200 and the URG-04LX.

c o m p u t e r s a n d e l e c t r o n i c s i n a g r i c u l t u r e 6 0 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 250262

261

Fig. 10 Surface pattern of an object with at hills and square-shaped valleys generated by the LMS200 and the URG-04LX.

Fig. 11 Surface pattern of an object with V-shaped valleys generated by the LMS200 and the URG-04LX.

5.

Conclusions

The characteristics of two commercially available laser scanners, LMS200 and URG-04LX, were analyzed and compared
through several tests. The following conclusions can be drawn
from these tests:

Distance measurements by the laser scanners over run time


uctuated with a peak-to-peak value of 1020 mm. The distance data measured by the LMS200 showed a decreasing
pattern until a settling time, whereas that by the URG-04LX
showed an increasing pattern.
The warm-up settling time was greater at a longer measurement distance, but was not affected by measurement

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angle. At a measurement angle of 135 for 10%, 50%, and 90%


of the maximum measurement distances of the scanners,
the setting times of the LMS200 were 32 min, 53 min, and
137 min, respectively; those of the URG-04LX were 50 min,
70 min, and 111 min, respectively.
From distance measurements to objects of different materials and colors, the longest measurements were found with
soft objects such as styrofoam and sponge; the shortest ones
were found with shiny objects such as orange tree leaves,
transparency lm, and a stainless steel plate. The effect of
color on distance measurement was more sensitive at 45
than at 90 ; but the effect of measurement distances on
distance measurement of the different colored objects was
minor.
At 90% of the maximum scanner measurement distances,
the differences between the longest measurement with the
soft objects and shortest measurements with the shiny
objects were 73.2 mm and 21.3 mm at 45 and 90 for the
LMS200, respectively, and 29.7 mm at 90 for the URG-04LX.
The capability of the URG-04LX was not enough to detect
any objects at 45 . The transparency lm could not be
detected by either laser scanner at 45 for 10% and 50% of
the maximum scanner measurement distances.
The size of the laser beam spot was approximated with
a rectangle. Both the width and height of the LMS beam
spot increased when measurement distance increased.
Regarding the URG beam spot, the width was greater with
increased distance, but the change of the height was minor.
The beam spot areas of both the scanners increased linearly
with distance.
The surface patterns of different shapes of objects mapped
and reconstructed by the laser scanners depicted the surface of the target objects well. From the surface pattern
of an object with V-shaped valleys, the averaged depths of
the valleys in the patterns generated by the LMS and URG
were 6.8 cm and 3.6 cm, respectively. The depth measured

by the URG was much smaller than the true depth of 6.1 cm.
This may have been caused by the relatively larger angular
interval of the URG scanner.

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