LiDAR: The Old/New Tech of the Modern World

LiDAR 101: How is a technology, from 1961, helping to shape the future of the world? Why are the biggest companies of today fighting for it? And why you shouldn’t ignore it?

A LiDAR based self-driving car
A LiDAR based self-driving car

Have you ever wondered what happens with the clothes that women buy?

Well, they are kept in the closet, dormant for years, till ‘she’ doesn’t find the accessories that perfectly complement the piece of clothing.

This is what has happened with the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. It has been lying in the world’s technology closet since 1961 and its full potential had never been realized due to the lack of complementary technology.

But, the arrival of drones in the technological space and the large-scale availability of GPS and IMU, has developed tons of new LiDAR applications. From Agriculture to Archeology and from Forest Planning and Management to Building Information Modelling (BIM), LiDAR is a technology that has applications across the widest set of industry verticals.

LiDAR is a simple technology that sends rapid laser pulses and then uses a sensor to calculate the time taken by the laser to bounce back. By doing this continuously, it develops a highly incisive and detailed 3D image of any structure or surface. This makes it the first choice for any kind of mapping or surveying.

But, what makes it special is that it works at the speed of light, it can penetrate through the dense forest canopies and even through the water to scan the ocean bed. This is why, Airborne LiDARs are being excessively used by Ecologists, Archeologists and Geologists, around the globe, to discover the unknown.

Apart from all these applications, LiDAR has the potential to bring about the most revolutionary change of our times. The roads are getting congested, the traffic jams are getting longer and so is the list of people dying in road accidents. The automotive industry is in the process of eliminating all these problems by bringing to us, self-driving vehicles, that will save hours of our time and will be much safer for those on the road.

These autonomous vehicles need to spot anything and everything around them and also, be aware of the positions and speeds of these objects. LiDAR is the technology that will provide “eyes” to these autonomous vehicles.

The uncountable applications of LiDAR have made it a technology worth fighting for.

Earlier this year, Google and Uber were involved in an infamous lawsuit as both of them wanted to use a particular LiDAR technology in their driverless cars. Other automobile companies like, BMW has partnered with Innoviz, an Israel based start-up, to provide them advanced LiDAR systems while General Motors has bought Strobe, a pioneer in solid-state LiDAR.

Oryx Vision, another Israel based start-up, has raised $50 Million for development of efficient and low-cost LiDAR systems. Velodyne LiDAR ($150 million funding by Ford and Baidu) recently announced a low weight system, PuckLite, designed especially for Airborne LiDAR applications.

LiDAR technology has come out of the closet and has become the need of innovators across the globe.

According to BIS Research analysis, the market for automotive LiDAR is witnessing a shift, in a trend from mechanical automotive LiDARs to solid-state automotive LiDARs, as the latter offers huge cost and ergonomic benefits.

Having closely followed all the major trends and developments in this industry, our analysts have conducted Business Intelligence and Strategy (BIS) Research on the LiDAR market. Reach out to us if you think our accurate insights could add value to your work.


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