Lidar’s Brave New World: Bridging the Gap Between Geospatial Mapping and Autonomous Vehicle Perception
Over the past two decades, the geospatial mapping community—led principally by government and industry partners within NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense—has driven innovation of LiDAR technology, successfully evolving it from a niche sensing capability into a thoroughly transformative technology with strong and lasting impact in virtually every corner of the world. Now LiDAR stands as the lead actor on a new stage—one with much higher demands of timeliness, flexibility, and affordability. Autonomous systems require high real-time frame rates, robust link budgets, and aggressive price points—not the typical hallmarks of legacy LIDAR solutions. These challenges must be confronted and resolved in order for the autonomous vehicle experiment to ultimately be a successful one. And it will likely require a reconsideration of some of LiDAR’s core architectures, including how data is collected, how it is processed, and how it is interpreted.