Light Detection and Ranging, popularly known as LiDAR (derived from the common term RADAR) is a sensing technology that makes use of light pulses in the form of a laser to measure variable distances from the Earth. A three dimensional information about the surface characteristics and shape of Earth is obtained using this technology. LiDAR technology helps mapping professionals and scientists to examine and study man-made as well as natural environments with precision, accuracy and flexibility.
Early, the use of LiDAR was confined to the government and military applications. However, with technological advancements, and reductions in the manufacturing cost of LiDARs, it is heavily penetrating into the industrial as well as the commercial sectors. A few of the major applications catered by LiDAR technology include: volumetric mapping, mining, forestry, archaeology, geology, seismology, mining, topographic surveying, and corridor mapping among others. Additionally, light detection and ranging also encompasses the field of civil engineering with its applications in transportation, urban mapping and planning, infrastructure projects, and roadway planning among others. Currently, civil engineering and planning are the top revenue grossing applications for light detection and ranging systems. The LiDAR market is classified on the basis product type: airborne LiDAR, Terrestrial LiDAR, Mobile LiDAR and Short range LiDAR. However technological innovations are boosting the cost-benefit ratio of terrestrial and mobile LiDAR systems. Further, the LiDAR market may also be classified based on its components such as the inertial navigation system, GPS/GNSS, laser diode, camera and MEMS mirror.
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Currently, there is no potential substitute for the LiDAR technology. Moreover, market has witnessed increased rapid growth in the automation provided by the LiDARs, along with the technological superiority in its field of application. Owing to these reasons, the LiDAR market is anticipated to grow at a substantial rate in near future. FARO, introduced Focus 3D LiDAR Scanner, a newly added low end device to the stationary 3D scanning market. The PrimeSense 3D Sensor, a non-traditional LiDAR, delivers an innovative solution which is adapted for real-time robotic navigation and is expected to fuel the 3D scanning LiDAR market. The recently found wide application of LiDAR technology in the digital mapping area has helped growth of this technology. Additionally, the introduction of low-cost, hand-held LiDARs is expected to reform the surveying sector in the coming five years.
Some of the reasons responsible for a slow growth of the LiDAR market is high cost of the equipments and lack of awareness amongst the masses about the adoption of this technology. With technological advancements, LiDARs have found its usage in the field of agriculture majorly to create a topographical map of the fields that reveals the slopes and sun exposure of the farm land. This technology helps farmers to achieve the highest crop yield by indicating key areas for the usage of expensive fertilizers. In addition, the researchers are working on terrestrial LiDARs for automated indoor modeling, which would aid them in modeling interiors of the building.
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The LiDAR market is geographically diversified with its origin almost across the globe. Some of the key competitors in this market include RIEGL Laser Measurement Systems GmbH, Leica Geosystems, Renishaw Plc, Airborne imaging, Inc., Trimble Navigation Limited and Optech, Inc