LIDAR for Intelligence
LIDAR (light detection and ranging; also known as LADAR or Laser Altimetry) is a method for collecting very dense and accurate elevation values. This active remote sensing technique is similar to radar, but uses light pulses instead of radio waves. LIDAR is typically collected from planes and produces a rapid collection of points (more than 70,000 per second) over a large collection area. Collection of elevation data using LIDAR has several advantages over most other techniques. Chief among them are higher resolutions, centimeter accuracies, and penetration in forested terrain.
LIDAR sensors are defined as "active," because the energy for measurement is generated by the sensor (i.e., the laser). This allows LIDAR to be collected at night when the air is clearer and contains less air traffic than the daytime. In fact, most LIDAR data are collected at night, but unlike radar, LIDAR cannot penetrate clouds, rain, or dense haze and must be flown during fair weather.
For intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes, LIDAR sensors provide high-resolution, 3-dimensional (3D) geospatial data. LIDAR provides a way to see urban areas in rich 3D views that can give tactical forces unprecedented awareness in urban environments. LIDAR data is both high-resolution and high-accuracy, enabling improved battlefield visualization, mission planning and force protection. LIDAR also supports automated extraction of urban features like buildings and trees-a critical technological improvement for constructing simulation databases rapidly.
The Army Geospatial Center, an element of the US Army Corps of Engineers, performed LIDAR data collections, exploited LIDAR data for operational support, and research LIDAR technologies using capabilities developed and refined under the Rapid Terrain Visualization Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (RTV ACTD). The LIDAR data could be used as a stand-alone product, or as an accurate foundation for rectifying and draping high-resolution imagery.
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