LiDAR vs RADAR

LiDAR Data vs Imaging RADAR

Conventional Radar Data

Conventional LiDAR Data (RGB images as reference)

Introduction

LiDAR and RADAR are both remote sensing devices that are often used for the detection, tracking, and imaging of various objects.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging or laser imaging, detection, and ranging. While it’s a fairly new concept compared to RADAR, it’s been around since the discovery of lasers in the 1960s.

How does LiDAR work?

The lasers used to detect objects in a LiDAR can either be discrete or continuous.

What is RADAR?

RADAR stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. Just as its name suggests, RADAR’s working principle is almost identical to LiDAR, except it uses radio waves instead of lasers or light.

How does RADAR work?

Similar to LiDAR, RADAR systems have two main components: a transmitter and a receiver. Here’s a schematic of a modern RADAR system. (Richards, 2014)

LiDAR vs RADAR: Which technology is better?

While LiDAR and RADAR have identical goals and principles, the type of wave used by both systems created a whole new level of difference between them.

Accuracy: LiDAR > RADAR

As you can see from the image above, images formed through a LiDAR system are crisper and much more detailed than ones formed through RADAR.

Reliability: LiDAR <RADAR

While RADAR’s accuracy leaves much to be desired, it’s much more reliable than LiDAR.

Cost: LiDAR > RADAR

For many years, LiDAR sensors are not an option for most manufacturers thanks to its high cost.

Conclusion: LiDAR + RADAR

Except for the type of wave used, LiDAR and RADAR are almost identical in principle. Both use a transmitter to emit a wave and use the reflected wave received by the sensor to decide the precise distance to the target.

Takeaways:

So, here’s what you need to remember about LiDAR and RADAR.

  1. LiDAR and RADAR are remote sensing devices that use light waves and radio waves respectively to detect objects. They use the interval between the time the waves are transmitted and the time the wave reflected from the object is received.
  2. Light waves have better precision and accuracy compared to RADAR. However, RADAR sensors are more robust. It performs well in bad weather when LiDAR often fails and has a longer range.
  3. RADAR systems are more affordable in comparison to LiDAR sensors. However, this might change as many companies continue to develop solid-state LiDARS at a lower price range.

References

Dong, Pinliang, and Qi Chen. “LiDAR Remote Sensing and Applications.” 2017, doi:10.4324/9781351233354.

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