Lidar 101

What is Lidar?

Lidar is an acronym for "light detection and ranging." It is sometimes called "laser scanning" or "3D scanning." The technology uses eye-safe laser beams to create a 3D representation of the surveyed environment. Lidar is used in many industries, including automotive, trucking, UAV/drones, industrial, mapping, and others.

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How Does Lidar Work?

A typical lidar sensor emits pulsed light waves from a laser into the environment. These pulses bounce off surrounding objects and return to the sensor. The sensor uses the time it took for each pulse to return to the sensor to calculate the distance it traveled. Repeating this process millions of times per second creates a real-time 3D map of the environment. An onboard computer can utilize this 3D map of the surrounding environment for navigation.

How Does Lidar Keep Us Safe?

Watch this video to learn all about the technology and how it can advance roadway safety, prevent crashes and save lives.


How Lidar Technology Enables Autonomous Cars to Operate Safely

To make autonomous cars a commercial reality, automakers must equip vehicles with sensing technologies that can plan a path through a virtual map of the world. One sensor technology fundamental to self-driving cars is light detection and ranging (Lidar), which provides high-resolution, three-dimensional information about the surrounding environment.

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8 Ways Lidar Brings Mobile Robots to Life

The landscape of robotics business applications is evolving. Robots are being called upon to handle a broader variety of tasks. They are expanding beyond roles as stationary workhorses in areas such as manufacturing to become mobile machines that address a wider array of challenging automation duties. Robots increasingly operate autonomously and their abilities to traverse changing and unstructured environments are improving.

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Guide to Lidar Wavelengths

To bring fully autonomous cars to market, automakers must equip vehicles with sensing technologies to create a virtual 3D map that can plan a path through our real world of roads, bridges, tunnels and more. Lidar technology provides the high-resolution, three-dimensional information about the surrounding environment needed to make fully autonomous driving a reality.

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Advanced Trucking Safety with Lidar

There are many advantages to increasing the levels of autonomy in trucking. Autonomous vehicle technology provides multiple efficiency and safety benefits to the trucking industry. Lidar technology presents the high-resolution, real-time 3D information needed to support advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

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Lidar Mapping in Archeology

Archeologists uncover pre-historic mysteries so humans can understand the past. Traditional archeology requires hundreds of man-hours poring over old documents and tromping through muddy fields searching for lost civilizations. Today, with Lidar mapping, explorations that once took years can be completed in a matter of days.

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Lidar for Search and Rescue

A rescue squad’s speed and efficiency can mean the difference between life and death for someone lost or trapped due to nature’s fury or an accident. Highly trained rescue workers and volunteers coordinate their efforts to locate a missing person and then plan the best method of extraction to get them to safety. Unfortunately, bad weather and treacherous terrain can hamper location and extraction efforts and limit as the effectiveness of search tools like cameras and rescue dogs.

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Cruise Ship Overboard Detection with Lidar

In March 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended a search for Brandon Paul, a 23-year-old Florida man who fell overboard from a cruise ship in waters north of Cuba. The search lasted 16 hours and covered 3,469 square miles, yet it failed to find the latest victim in a series of high-profile incidents of cruise ship passengers and crew lost at sea. The website reports that between 2006 and 2015 over 21 people, on average per year, have been reported missing after going overboard.

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Lidar for UAV: Solar Power Inspection

Solar power accounts for an estimated 30GW of renewable electricity generated in the US. This number is growing each year as more and more homeowners opt to install solar panels on the roof of their homes to reduce their electric bill. Solar power can only be collected when there is adequate expose to sunlight. In order to accomplish this, the location of solar panels on a home must be carefully planned to determine the best placement for maximum exposure.

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Wind Turbine Inspection using Lidar

Wind farming is an efficient method of harvesting alternative energy that is seeing rapid adoption across the globe. A reported 270,000 wind turbines are being operated globally, with more being installed each week. In the US alone, wind-generated power has already surpassed 75GW, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

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Six Gifts Lidar Can Give to the World

In a recent round table on the 360 Blog, a pair of Velodyne visionaries share their hopes for self-driving cars in our everyday lives. Mike Jellen, President and CCO, wants to leave home and “step into a car that’s set up like an office.” With his hands free from the steering wheel, Mike can turn his attention to preparing for the day and conducting more business.

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