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Lidar: Location Sensing to Become Ubiquitous as Costs Plummet

By Dick Weisinger

Lidar, a kind of light-based radar, is a method that uses lasers to measure distances. Lidar pulses can span across a large range and collect 3D digital position data about a scanned target. Lidar is similar to the echo-location techniques used by bats.

Lidar is used in terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications. Lidar is used for making high-resolution 3D maps, for laser guidance, is a key piece of autonomous vehicle navigation, and is being used for navigation in aerial drones. Apple is also beginning to include lidar capabilities on the most recent releases of iPhones to enable augmented reality applications.

The Lidar market is forecast to reach $2.9 billion by 2027, growing at a rate of about 20 percent annually, according to estimates of Allied Market Research.

AlliedMarketResearch: LIDAR market size

Advances in technology, particularly with GaN transitors, are bringing down the cost of Lidar systems.

Alex Lidow, CEO at EPC, said that cheap Lidar IC chips “open up the consumer market, and it blows open the use of three-dimensional awareness and LiDAR through cell phones, tablets, drones, or anything else you want. If you’re making a toy robot, you can now put a LiDAR system in it. What I’m particularly excited about is that now you don’t have to worry about multiple chips, and you can get them for under a dollar.”

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