LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data is very accurate, high resolution 3D data. Captured using special sensors, from the air or the ground, it results in a set of "dots" suspended in a 3-dimensional space. These dots can be displayed in special software or converted into a 3D mesh for use in many modern 3D software packages.
LiDAR technology uses light sensors to measure the distance between the sensor and the target object. From an aircraft this includes objects such as the ground, buildings and vegetation. For ground based LiDAR it measures building fronts and street furniture. With the latest technology it is also possible to obtain colour values of the scanned surface to create an automatically texturered model.
LiDAR is ideal when very high accuracy height measurements are required and is very cost effective for the amount of data generated. Airborne LiDAR is becoming more and more popular as a source of terrain mapping. Many companies now offer substantial amounts of data "off-the-shelf" as new areas are flown and added to exisiting archives.
Ground based LiDAR, which records "street scenes", has been around for several years, however, only now is it beginning to become more common with off-the-shelf data more prevailent.
Many enthusiasts have created home-made LiDAR scanners, from simple devices such as distance measuring lasers to more complex 3D laser scanners similar to many professionaly created models. A quick search on YouTube gives an example of the technologies being developed.
LiDAR has been around for a fair few years now but where did it come from, how was it conceived and who discovered it?
Find out the answers to these questions and discover other interesting facts in the History of LiDAR page...
Although the principal of LiDAR technology is relatively simple putting it into practice requires time and patience!
To find out how light is used to measure speed and distance visit the How LiDAR works page...
LiDAR has many uses across a wide range of industries, from surface data collection to speed detection.
See what uses currently exist for LiDAR technology and also find out a bit about the future of the technology...