The human eye sees the world as a constellation of points of light, reflected off objects and translated by the brain into shapes and colors. If we could record and measure those points with a computer, we could learn a lot more about the object: Not just what it looks like, but its precise distance and dimensions, even what it’s made of. That’s the idea behind light detection and ranging, better known as lidar where the interest is growing exponentially.
As Lidar News has been predicting for some time lidar will become more well known than GPS. The use of SPACs to allow lidar start-ups to go public including Velodyne, Luminar, Aeva, Ouster, Innoviz and now AEye. Lidar is the new buzzword in the financial markets.
From an article in Quartz on the exploding interest in lidar.
Pioneered in the 1930s for the study of clouds, lidar is now used to visualize everything from ice sheets and forests to ancient ruins, crime scenes, vineyards, military targets, and traffic patterns. Lidar systems direct a laser beam toward an object, then capture whatever light bounces back. In most systems, the speed of return indicates distance (thanks, Einstein!); the mix of returning wavelengths can yield insights about the object’s density and other characteristics. Mash a few million of these points together, and you create a 3D rendering. Attach the system to a GPS, and you get a map.
Once custom-built at astronomical cost by government agencies and aerospace companies, lidar systems are now small and inexpensive enough to fit onto a drone or a smartphone. More uses are being developed all the time, but the basic technology hasn’t changed much in decades.
For a historical perspective on the development of lidar CLICK HERE.
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