Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) is a form of remote sensing that uses laser pulses to measure the distance to a particular target or object.
The distance between a target and the sensor is measured by calculating the time between the emission of a laser pulse and the receipt of its reflection. The obtained value is then multiplied by the speed of light, and divided by two to give the exact distance between the target and the LIDAR sensor.
But what is the relevance of this form of mapping in the real world? Here are 10 important applications of LIDAR.
10 Applications of LIDAR Mapping
1. Gas and Oil Exploration
Since LIDAR wavelengths are relatively shorter, they can detect atmospheric molecules bearing bigger or similar wavelengths.
Coupled with the ground-breaking Differential Absorption LIDAR (DIAL) technology, LIDAR makes it easier to trace and determine the number and quantity of gases that exist above a hydrocarbon layer. This gives engineers an idea of the amount of oil and gas in a well in a particular region.
2. Structural Engineering
LIDAR’s Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is an important tool for structural engineers. In addition to the x and y coordinates, a digital elevation model contains z coordinates. This enables it to capture the precise height of a surface, which is important in the construction of roads, buildings, and bridges.
Before LIDAR was discovered, engineers used photogrammetry to determine surface heights. However, it would take them days to determine the z coordinates – a problem that LIDAR has successfully solved.
LIDAR is an indispensable tool in the management and planning of forests. It makes it easier to determine the height of a forest canopy and its density. Forest planners also use it to measure the degree of root expansion.
LIDAR technology is extremely useful in large-scale agriculture. It can be used to determine the type of soil in a certain area. This LIDAR data is helpful when deciding on which crops to grow in a particular region.
LIDAR can also be used for soil profiling. This cannot be effectively achieved through other surveying methods like photogrammetry since they are unable to deduce reliable information from soil samples.
LIDAR Digital Elevation Models are used in nature park planning. Information about the elevation of various parts of the park helps planners designate various sections of the park for the right purposes. For example, fairly flat areas are earmarked for playgrounds and campsites.
Additionally, 3D images generated by LIDAR can help facilitate the future expansion of the parks.
6. Flood Management
Since LIDAR technology provides accurate data about terrestrial surfaces, it can be used to create river models. These models are used to formulate 3D simulations of a particular river and predict the likelihood of floods.
7. Environment Conservation
LIDAR can be used to detect pollutants like sulphur in an area. This information is used by environment conservation bodies to determine areas that need special attention and take the relevant measures.
Manufacturers of video games use LIDAR technology to create simulation environments that are exact duplicates of the real world. For example, if a game features a race track, game designers will use the LIDAR lasers to capture the precise structure and color schemes of a real race track. The image is then loaded into a computer system and used to create the virtual game track.
LIDAR is used to map telecommunication boosters, which is critical in the planning of cellular networks. Planners can now determine the exact location and position of boosters to ensure strong network coverage for users.
Astronomers rely on LIDAR to determine the distance between planets and other elements of the solar system. It is also used to investigate the terrain and soil structure of planets.
If it wasn’t for this technology, Astronomers wouldn’t be able to determine the forms of life that exist on Mars.
The Future With LIDAR
If there’s one thing technology has taught us over the last decades is that it just keeps getting better with time. The same can be expected of this cutting-edge technology, especially now that its market is about to reach its tipping point.
Soon, you will be able to scan just about anything around you and interpret it using just your mobile phone or tablet. You will also be able to tell which floors are slippery, the materials used to make an item, or know the humidity levels outside with a click of a button.
LIDAR true game changer!