LiDAR, an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging, is a powerful remote sensing technology that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances from Earth. This technology, also known as laser scanning or 3D scanning, sends more than 160,000 pulses per second, with each 1-meter pixel receiving about 15 pulses. This is why LiDAR point clouds create millions of points. Topographic LiDAR uses a near-infrared laser to map terrain and buildings, while bathymetric LiDAR uses green light that penetrates water to map the seabed and riverbeds.
The ground reflection of an aerial LIDAR provides a measure of surface reflectivity at the wavelength of the LIDAR. Additionally, it can be used to perform atmospheric absorption measurements. LiDAR systems take advantage of this technology and use LiDAR data to map three-dimensional models and digital elevations. This data can be used for a variety of applications, such as profiling clouds, measuring winds, studying aerosols, quantifying various atmospheric components, and creating three-dimensional models of the world surrounding the LiDAR sensor.
Virtually all manufacturers seeking autonomous driving consider LiDAR to be a key enabling technology, and some LiDAR systems are now available for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). There are also a number of free LiDAR data sources available for those looking to start their search. In short, LiDAR is an incredibly useful tool for mapping terrain and other features in three dimensions. It has a wide range of applications in fields such as autonomous driving, atmospheric research, and topography. With its ability to measure distances from Earth with incredible accuracy, it's no wonder that LiDAR is becoming increasingly popular.