LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with laser light and analyzing the reflected light.
The LiDAR system components include:
A LiDAR system consists of several components: radar sensors, scanner mountings (or turrets), optoelectronic assemblies, and laser sources. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors are positioned at different heights to avoid potential interference from nearby antennae or buildings. The sensors are then mounted on a motorized scanner that rotates 360 degrees in azimuth and 150 degrees in elevation. The scanner is mounted on a tripod, which allows the sensor to rotate around a horizontal axis. The laser source is equipped with an optical window that limits convection currents, causing it to become more reliable, durable, and efficient.
In the LiDAR system, a sensor detects the intensity of the backscattered signal from points on the scanned object surface and records them to form an image. A micro-computer processes signal from the sensor and maps them onto an area on earth.
Applications of LiDAR Technology
Monitoring forest fires
Another exciting use of LiDAR technology also pertains to forest fires, which can be a severe threat to human life, property, and natural habitats that are crucial for the health of our environment. To combat these issues, LiDAR scanners are now being used for monitoring the spread and size of wildfires at both the state and national levels, which can help prevent them from engulfing large areas of land. Additionally, researchers are using this technology to track those wildfires with smoke plumes from above to determine where they are spreading. This data can help forest rangers and firefighters respond to the fire more effectively.
Dissecting coral reefs
Researchers are now using LiDAR technology to study underwater coral reefs in detail, which they previously had not been able to get close enough to study without endangering their lives or equipment. Using the LiDAR combined with deep-sea ROVs, researchers can gather precise data about the structure and biodiversity of coral reefs without affecting them. They can then supplement these findings by sampling further using traditional methods.
Evaluating building structures
LiDAR has also been used in other industries such as architecture and construction. People have seen this technology being used to test the strength of buildings against earthquakes and gale-force winds, as well as to help evaluate the ability of a building’s foundation to withstand ice storms.
By combining LiDAR imaging with 3-D models, you can measure the structural integrity of various buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure to ensure they are safe for human occupation.
LiDAR is used in several events, such as the Tohoku reconstruction program in Japan, to accurately measure ground levels and profile rock faces that are too steep to survey with a conventional laser scanner. Oil companies are also using this technology to survey and map the source rock face in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, USA.
Mapping the spread of a virus
Aerial LiDAR is also being used to map the spread of disease vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that spread tropical diseases like Zika, dengue, and malaria. By compiling this data in nearly real-time, researchers can provide more accurate information and assistance to public health officials trying to track the presence of these disease vectors in certain areas. Additionally, this information can be used to more effectively plan response efforts such as distributing mosquito nets or going door-to-door with vaccinations (or even pesticide sprayings).
LiDAR technology is also helpful in measuring soil’s carbon content, making it extremely useful for measuring carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Since this measurement can be taken from such a long distance away, researchers can determine if those emissions were coming from one place or multiple places at once. This analysis allows researchers to pinpoint the source of emissions quickly and accurately.
LiDAR technology is used for traffic management purposes. In Chicago, it was used to ensure that the city’s speed limit signs were accurate. That resulted in a reduction in accidents. The data could also be used to determine which speed zones need to be updated and provide more information on road conditions such as potholes or patches of ice. That is especially helpful for areas that don’t have consistent traffic conditions, so there’s no way to know which areas are dangerous because the roads aren’t well maintained.
Another application of using LiDAR technology is for traffic safety. It is helpful in red-light cameras and for determining how many people are crossing a road at a given time when traffic light signals are turned off and people take their routes. In these cases, LiDAR provides more information on traffic flow.
Crop Health Monitoring
Crop health monitoring is essential in agriculture. Sometimes, the disease can run wild when farmers spray pesticides on their crops. LiDAR can help identify the cause of diseases, resulting in more precise applications. For example, for detecting illness and infestation in wheat, it uses a laser mounted on a plane that flies above the crop canopy and sends pulses of light down to the plant canopy. The pulses reflect off the leaf surfaces, which can then be used to determine moisture content or detect heat loss. This laser-based system is cheaper than other measuring methods, and possible solutions could include a simple application where farmers could use mobile phones or tablets with LiDAR applications to generate crop health alerts when needed.
LiDAR scanning has been used to scan a variety of archaeological sites. In Egypt, it has been used to scan the Giza pyramids. That helps in the research and study, but also to help determine what they are made of. At the same time, LiDAR can also be used to ensure that sites are not being damaged while being studied or built on by humans. By scanning areas beforehand and then again after construction is finished, damage can be detected more quickly, and rules enforcers will use this information to work out if something illegal is happening on the site that needs investigating further.
These are just some of the ways LiDAR technology is currently used. It is still a relatively new and evolving technology with a diverse range of applications in agriculture, transport management, and security, to name just a few, so people can expect to see more exciting developments in the future.