The More Things Change…

LIDAR Magazine—so what’s that about? Over the years, when asked this question, I’ve honed my response to inquire as to one’s familiarity with geomatics; when that elicits a stare, I explain that lidar is an incredibly efficient measurement technology that digital mapping systems have evolved to accommodate.

Having operated publications for land surveyors and other geospatial technology professionals since the early 2000s, we decided in 2010 to create a property that would focus on one of the technologies that was changing these markets the most—lidar. But why?

The 1990s witnessed a revolution in geospatial process and methodology. Advances in GNSS and other satellite technologies primed the proverbial pump as systems became location-aware. We like to think that there are parallels between the democratization of GNSS and what’s happened with lidar. The difference has been the pace. Where GNSS brought accuracy by the point, lidar brought it by the truckload.

While the 2000s brought volume, the 2010s were the decade of the sensor, seeing incredible advances as unit size and cost reduced in tandem. We can now imagine sensors collecting data from anything that moves. While there’s no shortage of ideas for what to do with the data, considerable guidance is needed from an integration standpoint.

It’s now estimated that close to 100 firms are working on next-gen lidar solutions, most in pursuit of the autonomous navigation market. New players bring new methods, many of which stem from the automotive industry’s relentless pursuit of miniaturization and (preferably) zero moving parts; a recent stand-out in this regard, Blackmore, explain their frequency modulated, continuous wave technology (FMCW) on page 56.

We created this supplement with an emphasis on integration. In addition to highlighting key players, we travelled far and wide to interview trailblazers within the integration realm—the kind of groups that make sensor development viable to broader markets. We close with a piece from Ray Mandli highlighting his company’s 36-year evolution alongside a prescient warning for those intent on remaining relevant in the “age of change”. Ray’s firm has collected and reduced hundreds of thousands of miles of 3D data across North America; his experience is unique.

The second great wave of GeoTech dissemination is underway. As with other industries, we can expect vision to come from outside thanks to all the minds now cognizant of the power of the map (and lidar)! Few communities are better positioned to benefit from all the innovation momentum, or more capable of responding to the challenges posited by globalization, than GeoTech.

About the Author

Allen E. Cheves

Allen is the publisher and co-founder of LIDAR Magazine. As president and publisher of Spatial Media LLC, he also produces The American Surveyor Magazine and GISuser.com. Since founding Spatial Media in 2003, Allen has steadfastly promoted GeoTechnology as a premier career choice and solution to many 21st-century problems. More articles...