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What is Lidar and Why Does It Matter?

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Lidar (or “Light Imaging Detection and Ranging”) is basically radar with lasers. It is a type of surveying technique that is rapidly growing in popularity. You actually are (either fortunately if you are a police officer, or unfortunately if you are a speed demon) already familiar with this technology, as police officers use this to measure speeding vehicles in traffic.

By illuminating objects with laser light, Lidar very accurately measures the distances of desired objects and targets with a high degree of resolution compared to traditional radar technology. For those of a scientific bent, the high resolution is due to the fact that the wavelengths of light are ~100,000 times smaller than the wavelengths of radio waves.  

Originating in the 60s after the invention of the laser, Lidar was mostly limited to government use (e.g. NASA use for space missions). It is now, however, becoming more widely used due to advances in the technology industry (particularly in optics/photonics) which have greatly enhanced its capabilities and safety as well as allowed for its miniaturization. For example, Lidar can now use low powered lasers, which means that they can be used without safety precautions (high powered lasers are a safety hazard).

To illuminate objects, Lidar uses a wide variety of light including UV, Visible, and Near IR, depending on the type of object being surveyed (metallic and nonmetallic objects, rocks, clouds, molecule, you name it!). It then monitors the time it takes for light to return after being reflected or scattered off of the target object. Depending on the quality and time of flight of the returning light, Lidar can discriminate against different positions in 3D space and can thus accurately map an object or terrain in 3D.

Recently, using Lidar technology, a resolution of 30cm or better was achieved during aerial mapping of terrain.

Applications for Lidar include weather/atmospheric monitoring, physics/astronomy, military, remote sensing, agriculture, and even the arts. The band Radiohead (one of my personal favorites), for example, used 3D laser scanning to make the music video for “House of Cards.

Furthermore, the high degree of accuracy and resolution in mapping and surveying makes Lidar critical for autonomous robotics applications. For example, successful landing of robots on Mars, or safe transit of self-driving cars, both rely on Lidar as a key component.

Most importantly, Lidar has significant potential for use in the security and surveillance markets and could be poised to revolutionize the world of security and surveillance.

Security and surveillance applications include manned and/or unmanned aerial surveillance. Aerial surveillance can be used in military applications, but also in civilian applications. For example, Lidar could be implemented in commercial drones, which could be potentially used to surveil large properties like farms or estates, so you can safely monitor your property from a distance.

Using 3D imaging techniques, Lidar can also use “change detection” to alert owners of recent changes in landscape or objects such as tire tracks or broken fences that may indicate an intruder.

As with all new technologies, Lidar can be used for both good and bad, depending on the intent of the person/organization using the technology. Hopefully it is used for good, and we believe it will be; for safety, protection, and to advance society.

Take Charge Security is very interested in current and future uses of Lidar and is currently in process of adding Lidar to its product line. We plan to stay on top of Lidar so you can safely implement it for use in your home or business, as well as be on top of technology trends to protect yourself against any potential illegal non-consenting use of this technology.

So... keep posted for new info on Lidar, as well as potential new Lidar products here at Take Charge Security!

Yours in Security,


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