AR3000 Distance Measurement Sensor

AR3000 distance measurement sensors are Acuity’s longest-range models. Ideal for measuring positions of cranes and trolleys, the time-of-flight sensor can measure up to 300 meters to natural surfaces and up to 3,000 meters when using a retroreflective target.

Product ID: 3778 Category:

3 km Measurement Range

The AR3000 uses time-of-flight measurement principles to measure distances to targets from 0.5 m (1.6 feet) to 300 m (~980 feet). It can work with any opaque target and is specifically built to measure distances for surfaces of low reflectance (e. g. asphalt, grass, oxidized steel and aluminum). The accuracy of the sensor measurement is typically +/-20 mm, but this will depend on the reflectivity of the target surface, ambient light, and temperature conditions. Dark-colored targets may decrease the laser’s range and accuracy.  The maximum measurement frequency of the AR3000 is 2kHz in optimal conditions.

For very distant measurements, reflective target material (3M Scotchlite 3000X) can be used to increase the maximum measurement range to 3000 meters (1.9 mi.).

Class 1, eye-safe

The AR3000 laser measurement sensor is an eye-safe (Class I) infrared laser device with an on-board visible aiming pilot laser (Class 2) option that can be manually turned on and off through the serial interface. The laser beam spot size is 5 mm with a divergence of 0.6mrad. Large targets may be necessary at very long distances.

Versatile, Long Range Applications

The eye-safe laser and robust enclosures design (NEMA-4, IP67) make it a versatile choice for industrial measuring applications. Typical applications for the AR3000 distance laser measurement sensor include bridge crane monitoring, trolley positioning, ship docking applications, process monitoring, and altitude measurements, amongst others. In special modes, the AR3000 can also report instantaneous velocity or continuous velocity measurements for additional measurement applications.

Outputs and Inputs

You can choose a standard RS232 or optional RS422 serial interface for communication with a computer or PLC. The AR3000 also comes with a standard, 4-20 mA current loop output. The analog output can be programmed to have a custom measurement span, and the minimum and maximum currents can be set to any points in the laser’s range.

The AR3000 has a single limit switch for indicating alarms. This can be useful for triggering an external device when a target reaches a set position. Data formats are available both ASCII and Binary with selectable termination characters. This sensor can also output the sensor’s internal temperature and return signal amplitudes in its data stream. Amplitude can also be qualitatively judged using the indicator LED’s on the rear panel of the sensor.

The AR3000 has several measurement modes that are optimized for speed, accuracy, long distances or short measurement windows. Consult the User’s Manual for a description of these modes.

AR3000 Case Studies

AR3000 Laser Sensor Used in the Testing of the Morpheus Lander at NASA

NASA-JSC used an AR3000 laser sensor as a laser altimeter to measure the altitude of the Morpheus Lander in flight. The laser has been one of the more reliable sensors on the lander.

Laser Altimeter for UAV

Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle projects depend on sensors to provide spatial information for route planning and crash avoidance. A developer of an unmanned airplane arrived at a dual-sensor system utilizing a customized AR3000 setup.

Laser Altimeter Used in NASA Project M

Project M was a proposed project to land an operational humanoid robot on the moon in 1000 days (M is the Roman numeral for 1000). As with most autonomous vehicle projects, the design of the NASA RR-1 Lander required many sensors to fully control its flight. Design engineers contacted Acuity for a solution to measure the altitude of their RR-1 Lander. 

Measuring Distance to Helicopter Landing Pads

When pilots are preparing to land a helicopter, they rely on the accurate and high performance of distance sensors. These distance measurement sensors will help pilots gauge the distance to a landing pad for a safe and timely landing.

Zip Line Photographs with Laser Technology

Companies that offer zip line tours can benefit from the installation of a high speed camera system to capture their ride. A high-speed, long-distance rangefinder is a great choice for zip line photographs.



See PDF datasheet for full specs

Range: Working distance between measurement endpoints over which the sensor will reliably measure displacement.

Accuracy: The sum of all measurement errors when compared to a known standard.

Resolution: Smallest increment of change in distance that a sensor can detect.

Sample Rate: Speed that data samples are obtained from the sensor.

Options and Accessories

Connection Options

Acuity offers the following standard and optional outputs for the AR1000 laser rangefinder devices:

Standard RS-232 Serial Output

An RS-232 Output is standard on the AR3000. Cables purchased with the laser come with flying leads that can be wired directly to whatever connector your computer or PLC uses. The data from the AR3000 is output as ASCII and may be set to decimal or hexadecimal numbers. The maximum transfer rate is 460800 baud.

Optional RS-422 Serial Output

The AR3000 can be purchased with an RS-422 serial output for applications that require long cables (> 20 ft).  The RS-422 serial output replaces the RS-232 output, so please double check the output your application requires before ordering. The available sample rates, formats and software configuration commands are the same for a RS-422 output as it is for RS-232.

Standard Current Loop Output

4-20 mA, analog, current output is included on all AR3000 sensors. The maximum and minimum current outputs can be set to any point on the sensor’s range, even inverting direction if necessary. The 4-20 mA output has a maximum voltage capability of 10 V, and we suggest that a 400 to 500 Ω resistor be connected to the current loop wires at the measurement point for best accuracy.


The AR3000 can be ordered with a 2m (6 ft.) cable that has a Binder series 425 connector to mate to the sensor’s Binder series 723 port. Longer cable lengths can be ordered upon request.

Reflective Target Sheeting

To improve performance within 300 meters and to extend the measuring range to 3 Km, use a retroreflective target for the highest luminance and reliable reflection. These targets will reflect the 905nm laser light directly back to the sensor. Acuity sells portions of this reflective sheeting in 2″ X 12″ (51 mm X 310 mm) pieces.

Laser Divergence Option

The standard AR3000 model includes an optical design with a laser divergence of 2 milliradians. This is suitable for most applications. In some applications, the sensor with this configuration will not measure accurately at ranges < 8 meters to dark-colored surfaces. The AR3000 can be specially ordered with a wider laser divergence of 10 milliradians. This greatly improves performance at close ranges to all surface reflectivity, but limits the overall range to <50 meters.

Touch Panel Display
Touch Panel Display with data display

The Acuity Touch Panel Display is a stand-alone terminal interface for use with Acuity laser distance sensors. These fully enclosed units replace panel meters, alphanumeric displays, and analog controllers by providing a modern interface through a full-color LCD and touch screen. The Touch Panel Display communicates with one or two Acuity sensors using RS-232 serial interfaces. The touch panel can be easily configured using on-screen buttons to display, scale, and even graph the sensors’ distance outputs. Relative dimensions can be measured using a tare function. With two Acuity sensors, the touch panel can serve as a thickness gauge. Limits can be programmed into the touch panel to give a visual warning to operators that the target is too close or too far or too thick or too thin. With a USB flash drive, measurements can be logged and saved for further analysis.