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The Science behind LiDAR technology

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Physics – the “secret sauce” behind LiDAR.  The Physics of LiDARs has not changed since the days of Albert Einstein – the fundamental rules of Quantum Mechanics, speed of light and several other primary aspects remain the same. The rules of Physics cannot be bent when it comes to LiDAR, we try… but we still cannot really bend them! Let’s demystify the concept of Physics and LiDAR…

LiDAR and Physics

The magic word here is “pulse”.  Drones, other UAVs, and helicopters that come equipped with LiDAR sensors send light pulses to the ground. The pulses bounce off the ground and return to the LiDAR sensor. The LiDAR sensor then measures how long it takes for each emitted light pulse to return and records the return time. This is how LiDAR measures distance and how it originally got its name – Light Detection and Ranging.

Two important parts of this equation is speed and light, without these two parts -distance cannot be calculated (this is one place where the rules of Physics cannot be bent)! Speed of light is approximately 3×108 m/s which makes using LiDARs to measure distance extremely fast. The formula experts use to achieve the exact distance of the object is:

In a nutshell:

  • The LiDAR sensor generates an optical/light pulse.
  • The pulse travels from the LiDAR sensor to the object, then travels back to the LiDAR sensor.
  • The LiDAR sensor then measures the time -of -flight from the start pulse to the return pulse.
  • The time measurement is converted to a distance by using the given formula shown above.

You and LightWare can be great partners!

Are you looking for accurate and reliable time-of-flight LiDAR solutions for your business? LightWare can help you find that perfect solution! As LiDAR applications keep expanding, we offer standard and custom solutions that can only be valuable to the use case that you are looking for. Our sensors are safe (Class 1M) for UGV and UAV positioning and can be used for a variety of IoT applications. At the same time, our sensors provide accurate measurements over any type of texture, surface, or terrain!

Let LightWare help you find the best LiDAR fit for you. With over 30 years’ experience in the industry, we continue to strive to be a global leader in laser range-finder technology!  Contact us now for a free consultation or quote by giving us a call!

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