LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing application that uses pulsed laser light to measure variable distances to the earth. A LIDAR system typically consist to 4 main components; first a laser source; second scanner and optics; third photodetector and receiver electronics; and lastly position and navigation system. The light generated from these laser sources as well as the information gathered from these other components are used to generate highly precise three-dimensional maps.
A wide range of laser wavelengths, from the visible to near-IR, are used for LIDAR applications. 532nm to 1um wavelengths have cost benefits. But consequently can be hazardous to the eye if the beam is not expanded to an acceptable diameter that makes it compliant with eye-safe regulations. See our new Lasers 101 page for in depth information on the attributes of Lasers
An alternative approach is to use a laser configured at the 1.5um wavelength, as 1.5um light does not get focused in the eye and is therefore considered to be eye-safe. 1.5um laser sources are often used in applications that use long distances and also require less accuracy. For airborne topographic mapping a wavelength in the 1um regime is often used. As a result the beam is expanded large enough to be considered eye-safe. Bathymetric applications or applications where you are shooting through clouds, a frequency doubled 532nm lidar laser source is often used , as the visible wavelength is needed to transmit through water.
Lasers for LIDAR Uses:
LIDAR has found a home in a variety of industries including: agriculture, archeology, automotive, biology and conservation, atmospheric remote sensing and metrology, military, mining, surveying and also many more.
- Agriculture industry LIDAR is used to map terrains, or to tell farmers where they should be distributing their costly fertilizers.
- Automotive industry LIDAR is used for obstacle detection and avoidance.
- Biology and conservation LIDAR is used to monitor forest canopy heights or deforestatio.
- Atmospheric remote sensing and metrology LIDAR is used to measure winds, study clouds or aerosols.
- Military uses LIDAR for autonomous vehicle guidance and for identifying possible targets.
- Mining LIDAR is used to map excavated areas to determine volume removal.
- Surveying LIDAR is used for mapping building and surrounding areas for future development.
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