You might be thinking that Light Detection and Ranging technology may be only exclusive to those in the more scientific and specialty areas of work. It’s become a handy and essential tool in the world of industry. Lidar has been giving new approaches to construction planning processes. It may be the very technology that innovates self-driving cars. With its presence on the rise, now’s never been a better time to learn about it!
What Is Light Detection and Ranging(Lidar)?
To put it very simply, it’s just a method of surveying using remote sensing technology – by “shooting” laser scanners to measure any distance and dimension of any building or landscape. For all of this to be processed as information you can use in your plans for construction or landscaping, then you’re going to need lidar tracking software to make sure the data you collect is never out of place.
Lidar can send pulses of light to any building or landscape that you can think of, and it would just record the time it would take for those pulses of light to bounce back and record on the system. So the measurement made by the lidar system would be with the velocity of the light pulses. This technology was revolutionary since it became the primary source for collecting data for GPS.
How Does Lidar Even Work?
You probably think that lidar sounds a lot similar to what radar is and what it does – and though they do share many similarities in the form of measurements and methods, their purposes are entirely different. The form of measurement with lidar comes from the light waves from lasers and measures the total time it would take the light waves to be sent out and returned from the target object or objects.
After all the measurement is done of a target object, landscape, or building, the data is sent into a point cloud system(a database meant for storing coordinates), which turns all of the data received into a sort 3-dimensional map using meshes and models. These meshes and models display the layout of the target area that was scanned – though it’s nothing like Google Maps has to show you, its imagery looks like something out of the Matrix.
What Goes Into Making a Lidar
Much like how submarines need different parts for the radar to function at their best, lidar also requires different parts and components to even work as a single unit – although pricey, the job done would undoubtedly be great. Lidar would need different parts for sending out the light, the data generation, the recording of the data, the geo-referencing tech so it could put it all together for the point cloud to use.
This is where the light will come from when the lidar starts to go surveying an area. The light from the laser will bounce around from the device to the target area and back to the sensor, which would measure the velocity and time taken for the light to return. Different lidars can use different types of light sources, like infrared light or green lasers.
The scanner will determine how far light from the laser can reach. The scanner would also be the one that decides how fast a landscape, building, or target area can be scanned – sort of like the eyes of the machine. Some sensors can use mirrors to increase the range of how far and wide the lights can reach.
GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit
The fact that GPS has made lidar an essential tool for industries means that this was the game-changer. The navigation and positioning that the GPS and IMU allow means that what should be scanned by the lidar can be precise.
These are what measure the distance and the velocity of the light being sent out. These are where all of the data gets collected, so you know that it’s the central brain of the entire landscaping operation.
Types of Lidar
The type of lidar you’re going to want to secure will entirely depend on that job that you want to do – though that doesn’t mean you’re limited to just one lidar. Your money limits you. Some lidars are meant for airborne missions – installed on drones. There are lidars meant for terrestrial missions, which are attached to any moving ground vehicle.
As long as you can program the purpose of your lidars properly, meant for the mission you want, then there are several applications that you can think of for the lidar. For example, there’s agriculture and even archaeology. If you’re more interested in marine life and the sea, then there’s also oceanography.
To summarize everything, lidar is a tool used for quick and easy landscape and building surveying. However, they are open to more different applications if you can program them right. Without all of the components together, the lidar can’t function as it should, and if you do grab all of the different parts, it’s going to cost you a small fortune, at least.