What Is LiDAR Technology And How Does It Work?

Lidar refers to a surveying technique that relies on the light in a pulsed laser to calculate distances. It works by timing how long it takes for emitted pulses to reach a target and bounce back, keeping track of the distance via the speed of light. The three main lidar applications are robotics, 3D imaging, and atmospheric sensing.

What are the Uses of Lidar Technology?

Not dependent on the environment

Lidar has lots of advantages over other surveying methods. For example, it’s not dependent on the environment; unlike sonar or radar, its pulses will bounce off objects as varied as trees and structures. Lidar can also scan large areas quickly. It can sometimes take less than a second to map an area the size of a football field. The biggest advantage is that lidar provides precise measurements, which would be incredibly expensive using older tech.

Fast and accurate

Lidar systems from are used in robotics because they’re fast and accurate enough to process data from a moving object without relying on an external reference point as older systems did. This allows them to create detailed maps of areas as they move through them, whether on Mars or inside your office building’s stairwells. They’re also used for collision avoidance systems in cars and autonomous vehicles.

Suitable for several applications

Lidar systems are suitable for many applications because they can be used day or night, regardless of weather conditions such as fog, rain, or snow, and do not require line-of-sight with a target. The accuracy of a lidar system depends on the wavelength of its laser.

Highly effective

Lidar technology is used mainly in autonomous vehicles because it provides highly accurate localization and mapping capabilities. This is primarily because lidar can measure distances with centimeter-level precision due to the time-of-flight principle, which uses light waves to determine distance. It can be used in any environment, including in water, as long as there is a surface for the lidar unit’s laser beams to bounce off of.


Lidar is also a high-resolution mapping system that can detect details on the ground within a range of up to 100 meters. Unlike GPS and radar, lidar doesn’t require line-of-sight with a satellite or other device, which makes it particularly useful in areas with tall buildings and objects that obstruct GPS signals.

Essentially, lidar can also be used for creating high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs), which are used for things like flood mapping and urban planning. These maps are generated by feeding data from multiple scans into processing software, adding elevation data as a continuous surface. The results are incredibly detailed 3D images that give researchers and engineers an unparalleled view of their surroundings that can be used in practically any application where accurate elevation data is.

Minimum human dependency

With the use of a GPS receiver and its application in navigation systems, it is possible to make measurements without needing human input during the recording process. It can also eliminate human error if the equipment has been calibrated correctly.


Lidar technology is a cost-effective way to ensure safe driving experiences while reducing traffic in urban areas and lowering emissions contributing to climate change. With lidar technology, self-driving cars will communicate with each other, autonomously switching lanes or merging onto highways with little or no input from a human driver.

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