Which 3D, ROS Compatible, rotating LiDAR to buy

Hi everyone,

My lab is looking for a cheap rotating 3D LiDAR that has a ROS package, so that we can experiment point cloud registration techniques on it.

However, I have trouble finding a cheap LiDAR that also happens to have a ROS package…

I was thinking about Velodyne, because I saw that someone built a package porting the velodyne driver to ROS, but I want an idea of what 3D rotating LiDAR people generally use.

Thank you in advance,


Is this suitable?

RPLidar is the cheapest LIDAR solution I’ve seen, but I’m only aware of them producing planar-scan outputs… Perhaps turning the output of a depth camera (e.g., the RealSense) being turned into a point cloud is close enough to the desired 3d output?

Alternatively, the RPLidar could be made 3d by putting it on a tilt mechanism… wouldn’t be too tricky, but I would only go that route if the highest priority is to cut cost.

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How would you define cheap? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands of dollars?

The cheapest 3D LIDAR we’ve used is a Velodyne VLP-16 which is an older model at this time, but proven in use. Ouster and Hesai offer LIDAR’s which are 32 beams, and with different features with similar pricing.

All three of these offer ROS packages, and in general provide very similar LIDAR point output over Ethernet, so in our experience it’s not been complex to adapt ROS packages.

Each LIDAR is subject to common and unique systematic issues, and one may be more suitable depending on your operating environment and use case.

All are in the several thousands of US dollars range new.


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My personal recommendation would be Ouster, I’m a big fan of their sensors, but yes you’re talking in the thousands. By comparison to something like a Velodyne, Ouster is much cheaper, but they’re still professional tools with professional price tags. I want to say the 16 beam Ouster is something like 3-4k.

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Thank you all for your answers, it really helps.

A little bit of context: my lab is researching point cloud registration techniques and we wanted to apply our findings to a 3D LiDAR without spending more than ~3-4 thousands.

I will take a look at Ouster, Hesai and Velodyne and make a decision. Thank you very much for your help !


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Do you require a spinning Lidar? I prefer the ‘solid state’ type myself. I put solid state in quotes because most of them have moving parts, just not a spinning tower. For a while they were quite a challenge to use because of the very different scan patterns, but I believe most of the ROS drivers now output a more traditional ‘Velodyne’ compatible pattern. Livox has the best prices I have seen this far, and as a bonus they were shipping as of two days ago. I’ve had a Mid40 for some time now and just acquired an Avia.

  • Mark West