LiDAR the new rock-star of remote sensing which uses time-of-flight technology keeps on expanding its horizons. The beginnings of LiDAR go way back to the 1960s, where it was first used on aeroplanes for terrain mapping but since then, it has been growing in leaps and bounds!
The growth and development of LiDAR has raised the bar phenomenally, in acquiring data and it just keeps getting better. How exactly has LiDAR improved? It’s no secret that LiDAR has evolved over the past few years – with its starting point in the aerospace industry, its applications have expanded to industries such as mining, forestry, farming, transportation and many more!
So, what makes LiDAR so special? Cameras used on drones are affected by dust, fog, and darkness however LiDAR sensors can detect its surroundings even with these conditions present, and at the same time provides accurate and precise data.
Drones: Eyes in the skies?
Drones are good… but drones with LiDARs are even better. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other unmanned vehicles that come equipped with LiDAR sensors and can be used in various ways, i.e., as an altimeter on all drones to measure exact height above ground level, maintains position at a specific altitude and height above ground. It can also be used for collision avoidance. These are just some solutions that LiDARs provide.
In the Agricultural sector, drones with equipped LiDAR sensors can survey a large area providing farmers with essential information, i.e. seed planting, soil quality, livestock count and many more!
Moving onto forestry… LiDAR equipped drones help foresters determine canopy heights, tree density and tree volumes making forestry management more efficient and less time-consuming. The mining sector also makes use of UAVs, where mining companies use LiDAR equipped drones for a variety of applications such as infrastructure safety. They also play a significant role as a collision detection tool to provide SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) data to the mining company.
UGVs and LiDARs
LiDARs with autonomous machines have taken over the machine perception space! How though? LIDARs can be fitted onto Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to measure the height, volume and mass of crops in a farm, therefore determining the expected yield. Farmers can make better and more informed decisions thanks to the data that LiDAR technology gives them. Other applications include SLAM, terrain scanning and obstacle avoidance.
LiDAR technology has a place in the heart of almost every industry. But does it stop here? The answer is no…
Creating a ‘’Smart’’ world with LiDARs and IoT…
LiDAR has become a popular buzzword that describes expensive, high performance sensors used on self-driving cars, however LiDAR technology is not just for autonomous vehicles. IoT (Internet of Things) technology can be used with LiDAR technology to improve the data is attained as well as provide real-time measurement. The implementation of IoT highly depends on LiDAR technology, and measurements such as volume, height, depth can easily be acquired.
Real-life examples of LiDAR sensors are used to detect the levels of liquids, powders such as grains, feeds, chemicals or even bulk granular materials. LiDAR technology combined with IoT can also be used as excellent level indicators in tanks/silos, as well as detect blocked chute conditions in conveyors and feeders. From a nature perspective - LiDARs with IoT can be used as water level sensors to monitor the water levels in rivers as well as determine the height of rivers.
Smart security – does it exist? The answer is yes… LiDARs connected to a security system guards an entire designated area. It monitors people and objects in the area and sets off an alarm should an intruder enter the guarded area. It also notifies security personnel of exact location of the intruder.
LiDAR technology has also come to the rescue during the COVID-19 crisis, the big question is how? Simply said – LiDAR sensors with the help of IoT can help monitor people count, crowd density, and even facilitate safe social distancing. All the credit goes to LiDAR technology.
Needless to say, the list of what LiDAR and IoT can do combined, is endless!
Where does LightWare fit in?
LightWare has a range of sensors specifically designed for UAVs, other unmanned and autonomous vehicle applications and at the same time supplying our sensor technology for a variety of IoT applications.
What’s even better, is that we are more than happy to cater for the more challenging applications… Like most things’ tech-related, you can expect us to continuously look at improving our sensor technology!
Do you need help exploring LiDAR sensors to problem solve a specific use case? Give us a call, we have the experience and love helping solve the most complex of LiDAR challenges!