A Guide to the Drone Applications of Distance Sensors

TeraRanger distance sensors are ideal for utilization in drone applications, especially as a ‘drone precision altimeter’. The lightweight (8 g), small size, quick update rates and plug and play compatibility with autopilots, make the sensors the perfect solution for many professional drone builders. Some examples are outlined below

Airdog – The All-terrain Autonomous Flying Action Sports Drone

TeraRanger One is employed on AirDog II for fast terrain tracking. It allows the high-speed drone precision altimeter to track people as they perform their sports, without the drone crashing into the ground. Imagine a mountain biker or skier dropping into a steep valley. The sensor makes sure the drone will not descend until it has a clear path underneath it.

Airdog ADII - The Future is Hands-Free.


IFM (Intelligent Flying Machines)

Intelligent Flying Machines (IFM) are being assisted by TeraRanger distance sensors with their mission to automate indoor data capture. The exciting startup utilizes lightweight and small aerial systems to allow real-time inventory counting in warehouses, helping to enhance the operational efficiency of logistics and manufacturing enterprises.

IFM utilizes computer vision and machine learning to gather data, navigating in close proximity to pallets and racking systems with centimeter accuracy. In order for this to work, consistent and quick altitude control of the drone is crucial. After extensive testing, IFM chose the TeraRanger One distance sensor.

We are aware that aerial indoor navigation is highly complex, so we were after an altimeter that could provide our autopilot with fast and accurate distance data, and one that could still be physically integrated in our small platforms.

Marc Gyongyosi, CEO, IFM

“TeraRanger One provides a reference point to position the flying robot at the necessary altitude at high speed within the warehouse. In fact, this contributes to our objective of autonomously turning over an entire warehouse in less than 20 minutes.” Marc continues, “It is impressive how all this high-performance sensing has been squeezed into a sensor that weighs only 8 grams.”

Squadrone System

After launching the Hexo+ drone in 2014, and selling over 3000 units worldwide, the Squadrone System now supplies drone solutions to solve industrial problems. These include insurance assessment for agriculture claims, warehouse inventory management, and a drone which is dedicated to the security of sensitive sites.

TeraRanger proved to be the ideal precision altimeter, enabling our drones to hold a steady altitude while gathering high-quality data. We use TeraRanger One on our current platforms. The low power consumption and sensor performance is ideally suited to our needs.

Antoine Level, CEO, Squadrone


They support Chouette on their quest to keep every vineyard healthy. Due to their drone-based monitoring solution, it is viable to prevent the spread of diseases which could potentially ruin months of work and hectares of vines.

Chouette: Surveillance des vignes par drone

High Performance Without Using Laser

TeraRanger One uses eye-safe LED technology instead of laser. One benefit of this is that it allows the sensor to have a “Field of View” so that the sensor measures over an area, instead of measuring distance based on a tiny point of light. At 1 m distance the area is around 3 cm by 3 cm.

At 10 m it is around 30 cm by 30 cm, increasing linearly with range. In an altimeter and anti-collision application this is a huge benefit and supplies a more appropriate and stable data stream. Instead of distance readings jumping up and down as you fly over a crop, alternating between the ground and the crop, the sensor streams a stable flow of distances in millimeters.

For example, if the sensors were mounted radially for collision avoidance and you were flying close to trees, TeraRangers’ Field of View means you are far more likely to ‘see’ the trees and be able to avoid them. By contrast, a laser would be likely to ‘see’ the gaps between leaves and branches and look out to infinity or an object behind the tree.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Terabee.

For more information on this source, please visit Terabee.


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