Looking back to the early 90’s it is hard not to rank GPS in the top five technologies especially in terms of its impact on the average consumer. The Internet would have to be at the top of the list, but GPS would not be far behind.
Knowing one’s location anywhere in the world is a mighty valuable piece of information, but having a sensor that can “see” is even more interesting. One major drawback with GPS is the requirement of line of sight to the satellites. This rules out the use of GPS in a number of situations, like cities and indoors. Not so with lidar, although there are environmental factors that can limit lidar’s use on a temporary basis.
Today, the top technological megatrends in society would have to include the Internet of Things, smart cities and autonomous vehicles. With the exception of Elon Musk, lidar is being relied upon as a foundation technology in the development of consumer facing applications like driverless trucks. The other day I heard a VC on a financial show talking about the importance of lidar.
Assuming the mass production of low cost, solid state lidar sensors are just around the corner, in much the same way that GPS was commercialized , lidar is destined to become more important than GPS in the next five years.