LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a range-finding device that measures the distance to a target by sending out a short laser pulse and recording the time interval between the outgoing light pulse and the detection of the reflected (backscattered) light pulse. This cutting-edge technology has been used to revolutionize everything from self-driving cars to topography and 3D scanning. In this article, we'll explore what LiDAR is and its incredible potential. Self-driving vehicles are increasingly using LiDAR instruments to perform a variety of measurements, such as creating cloud profiles, measuring winds, studying aerosols, and quantifying various atmospheric components.
There are many other applications for LiDAR beyond these, as is often mentioned in national LiDAR data set programs. The fundamental principle behind LiDAR is straightforward: it sends out laser light at an object on the Earth's surface and calculates the time it takes for the light to return to the LiDAR source. For instance, LiDAR altimeters look down, atmospheric LiDAR looks up, and LiDAR-based collision avoidance systems look sideways. The ground reflection of an aerial LiDAR provides a measure of surface reflectivity (assuming that atmospheric transmittance is well known) at the wavelength of the LiDAR; however, ground reflection is commonly used to perform atmospheric absorption measurements.
Topographic LiDAR usually uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric LiDAR uses green light that penetrates the water to also measure the elevations of the seabed and riverbeds. The potential of LiDAR technology is virtually limitless. It can be used for a variety of purposes such as mapping terrain, creating 3D models of buildings and other structures, surveying land for development projects, monitoring environmental changes over time, and much more. As technology continues to advance, so too will the capabilities of LiDAR hardware. With its ability to measure distances accurately and quickly, it's no wonder why this revolutionary technology has become so popular.