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This reply is very late, but the solution to:

"I discovered that the sensor is renamed each time it is unplugged and plugged back in, which was part of my problem (ie - instead of ttyUSB0 it became ttyUSB1)."

Can be found here in step 1.2:

http://wiki.ros.org/xv_11_laser_driver/Tutorials/Running%20the%20XV-11%20Node

This reply is very late, but the solution to:

"I discovered that the sensor is renamed each time it is unplugged and plugged back in, which was part of my problem (ie - instead of ttyUSB0 it became ttyUSB1)."

Can be found here in step 1.2:1.2. The code listed is for the FTDI and XV-11, so you would have to modify the specific values to make it work with RPLIDAR. Also, be sure to add the MODE=="0666" to the code so that it always creates the device link with 666 permissions.

http://wiki.ros.org/xv_11_laser_driver/Tutorials/Running%20the%20XV-11%20Node