From archeological sites to self-driving cars to testing laboratories at the Air Force and Missile Command Development Center, LiDAR has revolutionized science.
Light Detection And Ranging is a type of laser scanning that captures extremely accurate, high-resolution 3D data by releasing laser pulses that go out until the waves reach the specific object and then bounce back to the receiver.
This is a technology that military scientists developed decades ago to detect satellites, but today it is used for many possibilities. For the army, LiDAR is a valuable resource because it is more sensitive to movement and movement of an unknown object than RADAR and SONAR. Think of all the applications of RADAR – Radar Detection and Coverage – which uses radio signals to detect objects and SONAR – Sound Navigation and Range – which uses sound waves. While LiDAR and SONAR use the same wave principles, light travels a million times faster and is billions of times more sensitive than sound.
“We can see the threat much further and move at high speeds,” said Norm Gifford of DEVCOM AvMC, who works with the software-defined LiDAR Doppler imaging system in the Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate. “It’s good for the fighters, allowing them to see the threats sooner. In addition, some parts of this object can be scanned to determine if there is a propeller or motor with moving parts, or moving at speed to characterize the object. There is a lot of information that a fighter can gain from using this system. “
LiDAR has been used in Guatemala to uncover Mayan ruins hidden so far under a thick brush, as seen in Disney + ‘s recent National Geographic Lost Mayan Treasures program. Scientists use it in glaciology when studying climate change. Apple fans even have their own personal LiDAR, with the iPhone’s new LiDAR scanner improving its photo capabilities.
Gifford recently demonstrated AvMC’s LiDAR system, known as Optocorrelotron, to S3I Director James Kirsch and Technical Director of Space and Missile Defense Command Thomas Weber at the Advanced Measurement Optical Measurement Facility. AMOR is a compact indoor laser detection and range measuring device designed to develop and test advanced LiDAR measurement and measurement concepts. The system provides an advanced ability to identify the target on a very long range and with the target moving at high speeds.
Future applications include platform target identification, target point selection, range tool support, weapon protection, and mapping.
“Modernization is much bigger than the army’s six priorities for modernization,” Kirsch said. “All the time, the existing systems are being modernized, which solve the current problems and create new opportunities.”