Find out all you need to know about LiDAR, its history, its uses and the technologies behind it...

LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data is very accurate, high resolution 3D data. Captured using special sensors, from the air or the ground, it results in a set of "dots" suspended in a three-dimensional space. These dots can be displayed in special software or converted into a 3D mesh for use in many modern 3D software packages, such as 3D Studio MAX, Maya and Sketchup.

Did you know?

LiDAR is an acronym for Light Detection And Ranging.

LiDAR technology uses light sensors to measure the distance between the sensor and the target object. From an aircraft this includes objects such as the ground, buildings and vegetation. For ground based LiDAR it measures building fronts and street furniture in extreme detail. With the latest technologies it is also possible to obtain colour values of the scanned surface to create an automatically texturered model.

LiDAR is ideal when very high accuracy measurements are required and is very cost effective for the amount of data generated. Airborne LiDAR is becoming more and more popular as a source of terrain mapping due to the high levels of detail it provides. Many companies now offer substantial amounts of "off-the-shelf" data as new areas are being flown and added to exisiting archives.

Ground-based LiDAR, which records "street scenes", has been around for several years however only now is it beginning to become more common with off-the-shelf data more prevailent.

Many enthusiasts have created home-made LiDAR scanners, from simple devices such as distance measuring lasers to more complex 3D laser scanners similar to many professionaly manufactured models. A quick search on YouTube gives an example of the technologies being developed.