For decades, it was impossible to quickly and simultaneously generate a comprehensive, detailed view of all city components, including roads, buildings, and walkways for the best possible urban planning. That is, it was impossible until now.
Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology has been in use for a little over 10 years, mostly in private sectors and among researchers. Now, scientists are working on ways to apply the same remote sensing technology used to map urban areas to optimize self driving cars.
Over half of U.S. interstates are at 70% capacity or more, and 25% simply have too many cars on the road. Introducing self-driving cars into the mix when conditions are packed and especially unpredictable can be a daunting prospect. That’s where LIDAR detection and LIDAR technology companies plan to come in.
Improving and Revolutionizing The Self-Driving Car Model
Google and Telsa’s self-driving cars caused a lot of media buzz when they were first introduced. Unfortunately, not all of it was positive. While companies generally tout autonomous cars as safer, at least two Telsa owners died from errors or malfunctions in its new autopilot systems. The reason? “The system remains incapable of detecting some stationary objects, or those moving perpendicular to the car,” WIRED writes. By contrast, new LIDAR detection systems, including ground and aerial LIDAR and digital imaging services, is highly adept at identifying stationary objects including bicycles and pedestrians, and any other stationary objects as many as 656 feet away. Moreover, this technology adapts to specific road conditions, whether that’s a densely packed highway, poor or extreme weather, and tight city streets. The technology continually scans the environment, making the more effective and safer than older technologies when it comes to self-driving cars. What’s more, companies say aerial LIDAR and digital imaging services may help reduce costs of autopilot systems by up to 75%.
Can Aerial LIDAR and Digital Imaging Services Be Used to Improve Highways, Too?
The answer is yes! LIDAR may be used to help power self-driving cars in the future, but that is still largely in the works. Right now, engineers are currently using LIDAR technology to build roads, highways, and interstates more efficiently. LIDAR helps engineers ascertain evaluation, width, and length of existing roads, potential height clearances for trucks and large vehicles, surface conditions, and current right of way patterns. The same services can be used to determine where to build new highways, what vegetation may need to be removed, and how to build highways while allowing for convenient traffic patterns and less deforestation and vegetation removal.
What Are Some Other Applications?
The use of LIDAR technology, including aerial LIDAR and digital imaging services, is extremely adaptable. The technology can be adjusted to help archaeologists scan surfaces and possibly detect when there is something underneath. LIDAR surfaces can identify common pollutants, like methane, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. Engineers and city planners can then use this information to map cities and spread out pollutants in urban areas. Finally, LIDAR sensing technology may be utilized to create realistic models of rivers, and particularly the surfaces of rivers. Doing so helps city planners determine how close buildings can be safely placed next to rivers. It helps pinpoint overflow and flood risk, and design nearby architecture and roads with preventative measures.
Light detection and ranging technologies are revolutionizing the ways we get things done, particularly in terms of mapping. Right now, its most common uses are for urban planning, river mapping, and road mapping and building. Less common uses, like archaeological uses and creating models to show pollution density, are being explored as well. Finally, researchers are seeing if they can improve on self driving cars–to create systems that detect all objects and road conditions–using LIDAR systems.