In the early part of the decade, the idea to collect nationwide lidar sounded like an impossible dream to many. The cost of the data alone, estimated at $1B, seemed out of range for the USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP), which was operating at an annual budget of about $60M a year to produce national hydrography data and topographic maps as well as manage a national elevation program.
Cepton Technologies, Inc. is a fast-growing startup, founded in July 2016 to provide high-performance, high-resolution 3D lidar solutions for automotive, industrial and mapping applications. It produces four lidar sensors, the HR80T, HR80W and the brand new Vista for ground-based, primarily automotive applications, and the SORA 200 for UAV-based airborne use. Cepton stresses that its sensing principle has no rotation and thus no friction.
It has been known since the NASA Viking orbiters and landers of the 1970s that the surface of Mars is similar to Earth in many ways. Mars has evidence of rivers, outwash channels, and glacial features indicating an important role for water throughout its geologic history. However, Mars is not Earth. Despite geomorphologic similarity, the underlying processes that shaped Mars’ landscape may be quite different between the planets.
Whenever I autograph a copy of one of my books, I write “May all your DEMs come true,” an obvious play on words with “May all your dreams come true.” After winning the 2018 LIDAR Leader Award for Outstanding Personal Achievement in lidar, I was asked to summarize the comments in my acceptance speech on my past and future dreams for lidar.