A little story of LiDAR

LiDAR has made its way into a numberof areas over the past few years. It enabled several innovations andtechnological advances. It also allows the collection of georeferenced datawith great precision. It is interesting to review the invention of this technologyand the pioneers who created LiDAR.

The first LiDAR prototype was developed in the early1960s by Hugues Aircraft Company, shortly after the invention of the laser.Originally, LiDAR was invented for the military and was instead called"Colidar for COherent Light Detecting And Ranging" for militarytargeting. The first known model was shaped like a rifle and had an accuracy of4.6 m and a range of 11.3 km.

It was during an experiment with theColidar in 1962 to measure the distance from the moon that we saw some strangeparticles in the atmosphere. This detail captivated many researchers, and by1969 LIDAR was used by meteorologists to study clouds and pollution. A new class of LiDAR was born:Atmospheric LiDAR.

LiDAR quickly became essential inthe space program. In 1971, LiDAR was used to create a topographic map of theMoon during the Apollo 15 and 17 missions. With notable technological advances,it was possible to obtain important data on the topography of Mars and even ofthe earth seen from space1.

The development of LiDAR was quiteslow due to the lack of commercial GPS favoring the deployment of aerialsensors. It was not until a few years later that LiDAR really took its place inthe fields we know it, thanks to advances in GPS technology and satellitecommunication to transmit data. This is when LiDAR became very popular. It wasin the mid-1990s that the first commercial LiDARs emerged for topographicmapping. They offeredpulses ranging from 2,000 to 25,000 points per second2.

Today, LiDAR has made its way intomany areas and it is more and more precise. In geomatics, data collection canbe done in more than one way: using a drone, helicopter, car and more! At MVT,LiDAR holds no secrets for us. We are experts in the field!

1 Abshire, James B, January 1st 2010, NASA'sSpace Lidar Measurements of Earth and Planetary Surfaces, https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20100031189

2 Petit, Florent, April 23 2020, THEBEGINNINGS OF LIDAR – A TIME TRAVEL BACK IN HISTORY,https://www.blickfeld.com/blog/the-beginnings-of-lidar/