This paper presents a characterization study of the Hokuyo URG-04LX scanning laser rangefinder (LRF). The Hokuyo
LRF is similar in function to the Sick LRF, which has been the de-facto standard range sensor for mobile robot obstacle
avoidance and mapping applications for the last decade. Problems with the Sick LRF are its relatively large size, weight,
and power consumption, allowing its use only on relatively large mobile robots. The Hokuyo LRF is substantially
smaller, lighter, and consumes less power, and is therefore more suitable for small mobile robots. The question is
whether it performs just as well as the Sick LRF in typical mobile robot applications.
In 2002, two of the authors of the present paper published a characterization study of the Sick LRF. For the present
paper we used the exact same test apparatus and test procedures as we did in the 2002 paper, but this time to characterize
the Hokuyo LRF. As a result, we are in the unique position of being able to provide not only a detailed characterization
study of the Hokuyo LRF, but also to compare the Hokuyo LRF with the Sick LRF under identical test conditions.
Among the tested characteristics are sensitivity to a variety of target surface properties and incidence angles, which may
potentially affect the sensing performance. We also discuss the performance of the Hokuyo LRF with regard to the
mixed pixels problem associated with LRFs. Lastly, the present paper provides a calibration model for improving the
accuracy of the Hokuyo LRF.