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8 Uses of Lidar

image of Point cloud classification

LiDAR has many other uses beyond smartphone scanning apps. This article explores 8 uses of lidar beyond smartphones.

Most people have some understanding of how radar scanners work. Used in navigation for decades, these sensors send radio signals in every direction and measure how long it takes to be reflected, thus allowing the detection of nearby objects.

From an article in Make Use Of by Bemfica Oliva.

LiDAR stands for “Light Detection And Ranging” and is similar to radar but uses lasers instead. This kind of sensor became more widely known among customers when Apple started including it in their devices.

LiDAR Evolution: From Labs to Apple Devices

LiDAR sensors were already used long before Apple’s products featured them. The tech was created in the 1960s and was one of the first uses for laser beams.

LiDAR and radar work similarly, but the latter is somewhat basic and better for positioning, while the former allows for detailed 3D imaging. Also, since lasers maintain high definition at longer ranges than radar, they can be used along with radio signal scanners for more in-depth information.

Lastly, industry-grade LiDAR sensors—like the ones used in astronomy—get as large as a car, but ones intended for shorter ranges can be way smaller. Because of that, the possible uses vary widely.
Large-Scale LiDAR Uses

LiDAR was used primarily for large-scale applications like industry, government, and science for decades.

1. Space Exploration

Since its invention, LiDAR has been intended for 3D mapping. During the Apollo 15 expedition in 1971, astronauts used LiDAR sensors to map the Moon’s surface.

The same tech is still in use nowadays. The Ingenuity helicopter sent by NASA to Mars relies on LiDAR scanners for semi-autonomous operation, especially during takeoff and landing. Since it takes seven minutes for information to travel from Earth to Mars and commands to be sent back to the Red Planet, the Ingenuity needs to launch and dock on its own.

2. Deep Sea Studies

LiDAR has more terrestrial applications, too. For example, scientific ships use LiDAR scanners in their hulls to create 3D versions of the seabed.

This enables a better understanding of the ocean floor and can be used for mapping underwater mountain chains and other seafloor features. Subaquatic vehicles (manned or not) can use LiDAR for even more detailed scanning of their surroundings.

3. Ecology

While on the subject of scientific usage, LiDAR sensors can be used for environmental measurements as well. One of the first usages, back in the 1960s, was measuring natural and pollution clouds in urban spaces.

For the complete article on 8 uses of lidar CLICK HERE.

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