The rapid increase of LiDAR has been notable in multiple industries including construction, forestry, weather prediction, disaster management, archaeology, autonomous vehicles, and many more. This is because LiDAR has various applications in surveying, drones, sensors, and laser scanning. It is clear that today LiDAR is among the major emerging technologies driving the age of automation. But there are many different types of LiDARs based on functionality and other inherent characteristics. It’s important to understand the types of LiDAR out there to choose the right one. Let’s have a look at the different types of LiDARs and their uses.
Based on functionality
• Airborne: Airborne LiDARs are mounted on top of helicopters or drones. This type of LiDAR is further classified into topographic and bathymetric. It works by first emitting the light towards the ground and then moving it towards the sensor.
• Topographic LiDAR: As the name suggests, this type of LiDAR is used mainly in monitoring and mapping the topography of a region. It has its applications in landscape ecology, coastal engineering, geomorphology, urban planning, survey assessment, etc.
• Bathymetric LiDAR: These LiDARs are used in measuring the depth of bodies of water. In a bathymetric LiDAR survey, the infrared light is reflected back to the aircraft from the land and water surface, while the green laser travels through the water column. Bathymetric information is crucial near coastlines, shores, harbors, etc. Bathymetric data is also helpful to locate objects on the ocean floor.
• Terrestrial LiDAR: Terrestrial LiDAR can be either Mobile or Static. Mobile is mostly used to analyze infrastructure and observe roads. It includes sensors, cameras, and GPS. Static LiDAR is more portable and collects cloud points from a fixed location. It is commonly used in mining and archaeology. Terrestrial LIDAR has its application in surveying and creating 3D Modeling.
Based on other classifications
• DIAL: Also known as Differential Absorption LiDAR, is mostly used to measure Ozone in the lower atmosphere.
• Wind LiDAR: Used to measure wind speed and direction with high accuracy By using Wind LiDAR, people can measure wind speed, direction, and even turbulence.
• Spaceborne LiDAR: LiDAR’s potential extends beyond the earth as well. Premier space agencies including NASA use LiDAR in detection and tracking.
• HSRL LiDAR: The NASA airborne High Spectral Resolution LiDAR (HSRL) is used to characterize clouds and small particles in the atmosphere. From an airborne platform, the HSRL scientist team is able to analyze the aerosol size, distribution, composition, and movement.
LiDAR continues to be successfully used in various applications. Knowing the different types of LiDAR gives users an edge when deciding on the right system. With advances in technologies, LiDAR has the potential to be used across more applications in the future.