Automated Laser Radar Inspection

Although Laser Radar has been in use for almost a decade, the new software suite simplifies its programming and operation.

After six years in development, Nikon Metrology and software developer Metrologic Group ( have released a new production line-ready 3D metrology system in which Nikon’s robot-mounted Laser Radar is programmed with Silma X4 i-Robot simulation software and controlled and automated by Metrolog X4 i-Robot software. 

Nikon Laser Radar is an automated, non-contact measurement system for applications of up to 50-m radius that is fitted to a six-axis robot arm. It precisely measures geometry without requiring photogrammetry targets, laser tracker spherically mounted retro-reflectors or probes. Laser Radar is not sensitive to lighting or temperature and can measure most surfaces, including glass. It can also measure through transparent materials. Accuracies range from 24µm at a 2-m distance to 300µm at a 30-m distance. Inspection speeds reach 2,000 points per second in Vision Scan capture mode.

Although Laser Radar has been in use for almost a decade, the new software suite greatly simplifies its programming and operation. Metrolog X4 i-Robot controls and synchronizes the motions of the robot and the Laser Radar. It can accommodate any robot cell, including a 7th axis rail or a rotary table axis—or even multiple robots. The solution is independent of the robot accuracy; therefore, robot drift, warm-up and backlash do not influence the results. The system simply executes single or multiple part programs that can easily adapt to different part models or variations.

Silma X4 i-Robot is a virtual, offline programming and simulation tool that can generate automatically optimized Laser Radar and robot positions. It handles the robot constraints (singularities, over speed, limits) and Laser Radar specifics (line of sight, incidence angle, etc.) to combine optimized and collision-free trajectories. The software automates what was formerly a complex programming operation.