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Lidar: Fine-Grained Laser-based Imaging and Measurement Tool

By Dick Weisinger

Lidar, a method for laser imaging and measurement, was first invented in the 1960s. The term Lidar is a combination of the words ‘laser’ and ‘radar’, and the technique is a method for accurately calculating distances. It is common now for satellites to be equipped with Lidar instruments to perform surveying and mapping. Lidar is used for surveying and forestry management. It can be used to create topographic maps and scan farming areas to detect foliage color and identify disease or areas requiring fertilizer, and even identify atmospheric characteristics, like clouds. The military has deployed Lidar to be able to detect and identify targets. More recently, Lidar is being applied to vehicle navigation and autonomous vehicles for obstacle detection and road environment recognition.

Thomas Garrison, assistant professor at Ithaca College, said that “what LiDAR does is give us the most complete background that we’ve ever had to formulate new questions. So we don’t have to spend all our field time trying to come up with the basic layout of what’s going on. That’s there. It just leapfrogs us in terms of the types of things we can look at.”

A recent article by GrindGIS identifies more than 50 different commercial uses for Lidar imaging.

The global market for automotive Lidar use is expected to reach $260 million annually by 2025 from the current level of $38 million. When all Lidar applications are considered, the market currently generates $1.7 billion and is expected to reach $3.455 billion in 2023.

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