As new technologies go, few look as futuristic and as hi-tech as LiDAR which stands for LIght Detection and Ranging or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging. Even the name makes it sound futuristic. However, LiDAR is merely a remote sensing technology that uses laser light sensors mounted on either vehicles or aircraft to illuminate a target in order to gather the appropriate data. Notice the animation to the right showing a simplistic view of a laser identifying surface area (from wikipedia). The result of a LiDAR collection is what is called a point cloud or a 3D image made up of points representing the external surfaces of the target objects. A single sensor may collect up to 800,000 X, Y, and Z points per second to create a 3D model and animations.
Today, LiDAR is used in a wide variety of disciplines including geomatics, geology, geomorphology, bathymetry, forestry, archeology, contour mapping, gaming, and even music videos. Apparently the indie rock band Radiohead thought it was cool enough to create an entire music video based on the technology. Whether or not you’re a fan of their music, it’s interesting to see an artistic view of LiDAR.