Lidar (also called LIDAR, LiDAR, and LADAR) is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light, and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital representations of the target. The name lidar, sometimes considered an acronym of Light Detection And Ranging (sometimes Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging), was originally a portmanteau of light and radar.
Lidar is popularly used to make high-resolution maps, with applications in geodesy, geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics, laser guidance, airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), and laser altimetry. The technology is also used for control and navigation for some autonomous cars. Lidar sometimes is called laser scanning and 3D scanning, with terrestrial, airborne, and mobile applications.
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