Applications of LIDAR Technology

In the blog “A guide to what actually is LIDAR Technology” we discussed about some facts describing the basics of LIDAR Technology. Currently, LIDAR is known as one of the most effective ways of mapping, thanks to its efficient acquirement of high-density and high-accuracy geo-referenced spatial data.

In this blog I would be listing the areas where LIDAR Technology is being used presently and you won’t believe that to what extent it has added value to the proper functioning of that process.

Applications of LIDAR Technology


  • Agriculture –


LIDAR can create a topographical map of the fields and reveals the slopes and sun exposure of the farm land. Another application is in crop mapping in orchards and vineyards.

  • Autonomous Vehicles –


Autonomous vehicles use LIDAR for obstacle detection and avoidance to navigate safely through environments. LIDAR sensor provide data for software to determine where potential obstacles exist in the environment and where the vehicles is in relation to those potential obstacles.

  • Forest Fire Management –

LIDAR is becoming widely popular in forest fire management. Fire department is transforming from reactive to proactive fire management. LIDAR image helps to monitor the possible fire area which is called fuel mapping.

  • Flood Modelling –


Features like buildings, constructed river banks or roads have a great effect on flow dynamics and flood propagation. LIDAR data can also be incorporated into relief, rescue and flood simulation software to provide advanced topographical information.

  • Urban Planning –


Urban city or town planning is the discipline of land use planning which explores several aspects of the built and social environments of municipalities and communities. LIDAR data is a relatively new technology for obtaining Digital Surface Models of the earth’s surface. This data, when combined with digital Ortho-photos, can be used to create highly detailed DSMs and eventually Digital City Models.

  • Coastline Management –

LIDAR helps in taking snapshots of the coast at specific time intervals. It can give a valuable insight into the accurate details of coastal erosion. It gives better details of coastal features such as cliff faces for mapping purposes.

  • Mapping and Cartography –

LIDAR is suitable for mapping 3D models and complex mountain topography. It is used for high-resolution contour maps and it can assist in road, building and vegetation mapping.

  • Cellular Network Planning –

It can be used to provide accurate analysis for determining line of sight and view shed for proposed cellular antenna.

  • ELC –

ELC is short form of Ecological and Land Classification. It is done to provide the biological and physical information of the Landscape which helps in the sustainable management.

  • Navigation –

LIDAR is becoming more and more popular as a guidance system for autonomous vehicles. The speed and accuracy of a scanner means that data can be passed to a system to process the return in more or less real-time. This allows the device controlling the vehicle to detect obstacles and to update its route in a very small amount of time.

  • Precision Forestry –

Precision Forestry is define as planning and operating the site specific forest area to increase the productivity of wood quality, reduce cost and increase profits, and maintain the environment quality. LIDAR and aerial photo is used to perform precision forestry.

  • Imaging –


3-D imaging is done with both scanning and non-scanning systems. “3-D gated viewing laser radar” is a non-scanning laser radar system that applies the so-called gated viewing technique. The gated viewing technique applies a pulsed laser and a fast-gated camera.

  • Mining –

The calculation of ore volumes is accomplished by periodic scanning in areas of ore removal. LIDAR sensors may also be used for obstacle detection and avoidance for robotic mining vehicles.

  • Oil and Gas Exploration –

LIDAR systems are used to track the trace amounts of gases in the atmosphere above hydrocarbon for measureable concentration of anomalies. Mapping helps to minimize environmental impact as well as the overall cost by ensuring only the necessary area is developed.

  • DEM (Digital Elevation Value) –


It presents the elevation model in 3-D coordinates. Elevation values are used everywhere, in roads, building, bridge and other. It has made easy to capture the surface height. Before LIDAR, ground survey or photogrammetry method was used to capture the z coordinates but the method was very time consuming.

  • Hydrology Applications –

DEM generated from LIDAR is used in planning of Stream line delineation, watershed area, flood plain mapping, runoff or pollution prediction and bathymetry. High and accurate DEM is the major input to create this and GIS software is used to create it.

  • Transport Planning –


Transportation corridor mapping to support engineering planning and change detection of road networks requires high spatial resolution and high scale engineering mapping accuracy. With the latest developments of LIDAR sensors the accuracy potential of LIDAR data has improved significantly.

  • Spaceflight and Astronomy –

A worldwide network of observatories uses LIDAR to measure the distance to reflectors placed on the moon. LIDAR has also been used for atmospheric studies from space. It helps in maintenance of the Spacecraft Stations.

  • Quarries and Mineral (Volumetric and Exploration) –


LIDAR is also being used for the quarrying industry to determine air pollutants as well as surveying land around the area to see its suitability, as well as give an accurate indication of environmental impact.

  • Archaeology –


LIDAR assists in the creation of high resolution digital elevation models to reveal micro-topography. The results from it aids in the planning of filed campaigns and mapping features beneath forestry canopy.

  • Micro Topography –

LIDAR is very accurate and precise technology which uses laser pulse to strike the object. Regular photogrammetry or other survey technology can miss the surface elevation value that is hidden by vegetation or forest canopy. But LIDAR can penetrate through the object and detect the surface value.

Atmospheric Remote Sensing and Meteorology –


LIDAR systems are used to determine cloud profiles, measuring winds, studying aerosols and quantifying various atmospheric components. The function of this LIDAR system can be classified in 2 types as below:

  1. By measuring backscatter from the atmosphere
  2. By measuring the scattered reflection off the ground or other hard surface.

Till date we all were not knowing that this technology is being used so extensively for so many industrial process in order to achieve better results from the process and to aid in the planning of buildings, urban areas and mining. Fields like archeology, astronomy, remote sensing, flood and pollution control, study of the different geology parameters and much more have been benefitted greatly by the usage of LIDAR in the processes.

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