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LiDAR-Driven Autonomous Future

Auto Tech Outlook | Wednesday, September 09, 2020

FREMONT, CA: Smart cars, robots, and other automated systems are gaining popularity due to several technologies that these smart devices incorporate. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is one such critical technology, steering the autonomous revolution.

LiDAR is a remote sensing method that utilizes laser pulses and measures the amount of time the light requires to travel back. The sensor installed on a machine repeats the process in rapid succession, thereby building a complex 3D map of the surroundings or a target. LiDAR data generates dense point clouds that provide reliable and accurate 3D images of streets, mountainous terrains, large areas, and remote locations. Initially used for space missions, today LiDAR has several use cases across the industries.

Radar and Cameras

With a combination of radar sensors and cameras, modern cars enable various navigation activities. However, both radar and cameras have limitations. While the effectiveness of camera decreases in case of slippery roads and dark conditions, radars are also not effective for determining the position of objects that are not moving. LiDAR integrated with cameras and radars balance out the limitations of each solution.

Solo Flight

Today, the drones use a geo-reference payload that consists of an initial measurement unit (IMU) and global position system (GPS) for precise geopositioning. However, high-performance IMUs are costly. LiDAR can be incorporated into Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for a cost-effective and lightweight mapping solution.

Food Chain

Mining and agriculture industries are also revolutionizing under LiDAR technology. Integrated LiDAR maps the areas accurately and quickly, which is essential for areas like crop fields and congested spaces in mines.

Power, Cost, and Size

Power efficiency is another consideration for LiDAR-led technologies. While early LiDAR-based solutions were bulky, today they are available in the form of compact sensors in the market. Lightweight LiDAR integrated into the vehicles enable them to run longer.

Is it Secure?

LiDAR improves traditional solutions with additional efficiency. LiDAR can be combined with network cameras for electronic safety and security applications. It also enables to identify a perimeter breach as well as distinguishing objects, thereby identifying threats and providing countermeasures to act.

With further advancement in technologies, LiDAR-led solutions will continue to evolve and will have a significant role in technological transformations across the industries.

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