The geospatial data collected by the sensors is then (1) integrated with GPS data and an Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU) for precise positioning of the data points, (2) processed to classify the surfaces each data point represents, then (3) converted into 3-D visualizations of the area or subject being studied. That process of emitting pulses of laser light and measuring their returns defines LiDAR as what is called an “Active Remote Sensing System,” similar to radar, but specifically using laser light.

The uses for LiDAR are as varied as the insights its 3-D visualizations can provide. Its broad purpose, however, is to help users analyze, interpret, understand, plan, and act based on geospatial data points drawn from real world environments. Its accuracy and versatility make LiDAR a high value tool in many categories, including defense, intelligence, architecture, autonomous vehicles, land management (agriculture, forestry, etc.), critical infrastructure systems, disaster relief, insurance, augmented reality, mining, climate change monitoring, and more. LiDAR’s versatility has increased as the technologies have evolved, costs have dropped, and ease-of-use has increased. And when paired with complementary technologies, like Activity-Based Intelligence (ABI) and Automated Terrain Modeling, LiDAR’s usefulness broadens to both more industries and more functionality.

Even as LiDAR system technologies have become both more sophisticated and more accessible, the knowledge and experience of the user makes a significant difference. While systems designed for limited and specific uses have proliferated, for complex situations that involve national security, physical safety, or major long-term consequences, the most effective LiDAR systems are those operated by highly-trained LiDAR professionals. Experienced LiDAR analysts, for example, not only know how best to use the tools to get at the right raw data, process it appropriately, and add geo-referenced structure, they also know what the data really means for the objectives of the mission at hand. That’s why even large government agencies and multi-national corporations often partner with external LiDAR specialists to assure the best outcomes.


This information page is provided as a service to our readers by BAE Systems, Inc., a U.S.-based world leader in aerospace, defense, power, and intelligence solutions. Learn more about us here.

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