If you’re interested in the technical aspects of mapping and determining distances, you’re probably familiar with the word “lidar.”
The term is a cobbled-together combination of light and radar, and lidar is used in a wide array of applications, including satellite tracking, space flight, robotics, forestry and soil study, among others.
Given the widespread use of lidar, it can be tough to get a handle on some of the more technical aspects of this remarkable technology. So let’s take a journey through the basics of lidar, using a question and answer format to help clarify things.
How does lidar work? Lidar is used to determine distances by pointing laser light at a target, then measuring the reflection of that light with a sensor (one of them is the itof sensor). The information from these measurements is then used to create a digital 3D representation of the original target.
When was lidar invented? In the early 1960s. The key development that led to Lidar was the invention of the laser. Initial lidar systems were used to track satellites, but the versatility of advanced laser technology quickly led to other uses. The ongoing development of CMOS chips led their use in lidar CMOS laser products and applications.
What role does the CMOS play in lidar CMOS laser? CMOS chips typically perform the sensor function in lidar. They can be specialized to meet the needs of a variety of applications, e,g, automotive use, depending on the requirements.
What is the most common usage for lidar technology? Probably mapping. Lidar can be used to create weather maps and guidance systems, and the mapping functions can also be used in forestry, soil study, surveying, geology and physics.
I read somewhere that my car of the future may eventually incorporate lidar technology. How will that work? Lidar is currently being used in cutting-edge work to develop autonomous vehicles, i.e., self-driving vehicles that can navigate roads and other environments without a driver.
What are some of the unusual uses of lidar? There are too many to name individually, but law enforcement would be one of the most unique. Police use lidar technology in radar guns because of the distances and speeds involved, and lidar is also used to take scans of different objects and fluids at a crime scene.
Want a couple more? Early lidar systems were used to map clouds and pollution, while the general public first became aware of lidar when it was learned that NASA used the technology for moon mapping during the Apollo 15 mission.