Lidar has become a mainstream term - but what exactly does it mean and how does it work? Sean Higgins breaks it down in this post.
Lidar is a laser technology that captures the surfaces of an object or a space in three dimensions. The word “lidar” is an acronym for LIght Detection And Ranging.
The roots of this technology reach back to 1938, when pulses of light were first used to measure the height of clouds (seriously). But don’t let that fool you: Lidar is crucial to a variety of cutting-edge industries, including robotics, autonomous vehicles, space exploration, survey, architecture, engineering, construction, and more.
There may even be a lidar sensor right next to the camera in your iPhone, or directing your robotic vacuum so it doesn’t fall down the stairs.
How does lidar work?
Today we’ll focus whatsapp database on the type of lidar most commonly used in 3D-capture applications. It works using the principle “time of flight.” Much like the laser rangefinders you would use to find the dimensions of a room.
Let’s start by exploring how time of flight works in a laser rangefinder:
The device fires a laser
The laser bounces off the wall
…and returns to the device
The device measures the time between the firing and the return (also known as the laser’s time of flight)
The device calculates the distance to the wall
what is lidar_how does it work
How can the device do that? As you know, the speed of light is constant. If we look at the very simple equation for calculating distance using time of flight (distance = speed x time), we’ll see that the device now knows two of the variables: speed and time. It can easily calculate distance. Voila.
There are a few other types of lidar sensor—including some that measure distance using the distortion of waveforms. We’ll get to those in a future article.
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