LIDAR technology has been around for decades and used in everything from spacecraft and robots, to speed guns. It also happens to be one of the technologies driving the development of autonomous vehicles.
Driverless cars may not be a widespread reality on the roads just yet, but if they are ever to become truly mainstream, LIDAR will be one of the onboard technologies that make them possible and keeps passengers safe.
What is LIDAR?
A portmanteau of light and Radar, LIDAR is also an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging, or Light Imaging, Detection and Ranging. The technology was first developed in the early 1960s.
Put simply, LIDAR bounces light off objects to see where they are, just as radar uses radio waves and sonar uses sound. LIDAR systems send out pulses of light outside of the visible spectrum and time how long it takes for them to bounce back. The time it takes for the light to reflect back tells the sensor how far away it is and reveals its shape.