How LiDAR Sensors Map Environments Using Laser Beams
A beam of laser light is sent out from the sensor, and when it comes into contact with objects in the scene, it bounces back, returning to the source, where it is detected by a receiver. The time taken for each beam to reach an obstacle and be detected again by the receiver is called the ‘return time’. LiDAR sensors use the return time to create a distance map of a location and the objects within it. Each return time is used to give the location of a specific point in space where an object is located.
Millions of Points in Space
LiDAR sensors collect many millions of points in space, for example, the Innovusion Falcon gathers 900,000 points per second, and these can be used to construct a three-dimensional virtual model of the mapped area. However, there is some extra work to be done to ensure that these landscapes are geospatially accurate. Geospatial accuracy is one of LiDAR data’s superpowers, unlocking a wealth of ways to use the spatial information gathered.
Geospatial Accuracy: A LiDAR Superpower
For data to be considered ‘geospatial’, it must contain a geographic component related to a specific location on an earth’s surface. This type of geographically specific data is widely used areas such as urban planning, transportation, environmental science, agriculture, disaster management, and location-based services. LiDAR gathers millions of geospatial data points offering much more detailed information about an object or area, and more quickly, than is possible from any other surveying method.
But for this data to be really useful, it needs to be attached to a specific location on the earth, rather than just in relation to the LiDAR scanner.
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