We are a group working on a project for 3day startup event (http://nait.3daystartup.org/). We want to develop a cheap multipoint laser range finder. Currently laser range finders measure distance by measuring the time it takes a burst of laser pulse travel between sensor and distant object. In order to collect data over a lager area they use a spinning mirror. Our system would work by firing a infrared laser through a diffraction grating and using a specialized camera to measure the distance between the laser points to calculate the distance. The diffraction grating gives the sensor a 90 degree field of view.
We think we can make an accurate and robust laser range finding system for a fraction of the cost of traditional systems.
This would be ideal for robot and drone navigation and collision avoidance systems, security perimeter or safety alert system.
We're still finalizing our designs, and want feedback from people who would want to use this system.