Can LiDAR See Through Objects?

Lidar is a revolutionary technology that can map an area with an impressive level of detail, including the ability to detect objects through walls, trees and other obstacles. In this article, we'll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about current technologies and their ability to penetrate walls.


is not effective at penetrating solid objects because sound waves don't travel well through the vibrating particles that make up solid objects.


can't see through walls with real accuracy because rays propagate when they hit solid objects, which can lead to false positives.

In addition, walls can absorb radar waves depending on the material they are made of.

Radio waves

are not effective at seeing through walls because they spread in all directions when they hit solid objects, making it difficult to see an image. In addition, radio waves easily bounce off substances such as metal and glass, making it difficult to distinguish what is an object and what is part of the background.


, or Detection and Range of Light, emits pulsed laser light that is then reflected on objects. The system calculates the time it takes for lasers to rebound to determine a distance based on the speed of light.

Thermal images are not able to see through walls either. Thermography works by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by objects and converting the signal into a thermal image, where different temperatures are represented by different colors or shades of gray. A thermal or infrared camera will only be able to detect the heat from the wall, not what's actually behind it. Therefore, if there were something inside the wall, for example, the lack of insulation and caused a large enough temperature difference, it would be picked up by a thermal camera.


can't see through walls at all.

Technology doesn't work like that. Now that we know all the technologies that can't see through walls, let's look at something that's being developed and that has the most potential.

Range-R radar devices

are the closest to being able to see through walls. Range-R radar devices identify a person's location based on sound waves that bounce off a handheld device.

They can see the sounds produced by the movement of a person through a wall because ultra-low frequency radio frequency waves are reflected by any object in their path, but the device only measures the distance and not what is beyond it. The Range-R has also been criticized about whether or not it violates Fourth Amendment rights, since it can detect what is happening inside homes if the police are outside with the device. Radar devices, such as the Range-R, are the closest to being able to pass through walls, but they still lack what is normally imagined when people think of seeing through walls. The only way to see the inside of a structure with a wall is if someone on the other side opens a door, window or goes outside. So for now, we have to rely on good old fashioned human vision.


, or Light Detection and Ranging systems take advantage of this technology and use LiDAR data to map three-dimensional models and digital elevations.

3D at Depth, a global provider of advanced subsea LiDAR solutions, has continued to validate the LiDAR market for the upstream oil and gas industry. LiDAR systems calculate how long it takes for light beams to hit an object or surface and reflect back to the laser scanner. The distance is then calculated using the speed of light*. These measurements are known as “flight times”. With repeated pings, a LiDAR device can also learn how nearby objects move, their speed and whether they are facing the LiDAR device or not. So what is LiDAR? We hope this article has satisfied your curiosity about LiDAR (detection and range of light).

While LiDAR systems cannot currently penetrate walls or other solid objects, they have many applications in mapping three-dimensional models and digital elevations in various industries...

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