Sensors and Connectivity series: How LIDAR is advancing machine vision

Light Detecting and Ranging (LIDAR) is a remote sensing technology that records the time taken for laser pulses to strike an object and reflect back to the sensor. This is used to calculate distance between the sensor and object. LIDAR sensors obtain integral information from the environment and can measure the speed of moving objects by measuring timed changes in distances between different objects. The technology uses ultraviolet, visible or near infrared light to image objects targeting a wide range of materials in 3D vector space.

Image author: Environment Agency.


The United States Department of Transportation carried out field tests using LIDAR as it can provide the same accuracy and reliability as conventional speed measuring systems. The test concluded that LIDAR can measure track speed and curvature in a non-contact manner at train speeds as low as 0.5mph to speeds as high as 100mph. The rail industry could see an increase in the use of LIDAR sensing technology as the sensors can be used as a multifunctional noncontact sensor. There could also be an increase in the use of LIDAR in surveying and track assessment applications. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) recently deployed LIDAR technology through its ‘Roadview’ system which allows areas of maintenance to be pinpointed for visual inspection. This saves time and potentially even costs associated with locating the site of maintenance. LIDARs obstacle detection capabilities could even be used as a mechanism for automated trains.


Banner image author: Dllu, Source - Own work.
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