LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging)

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging. LiDAR is a sensor technology that is often called a laser, but the popular radar inspired the acronym. It works similar to the basic radar principle – a sensor emits light waves into its surroundings. These waves bounce off objects and return to the sensor, allowing the sensor to detect objects and range the distance.

It is a binary sensor, which can detect the presence or absence of matter. It does not capture any other data or information.

This principle makes everything surrounding the sensor equally important because it can not differentiate between different objects such as a loaded pallet or a concrete pillar.

LiDAR scanning is ideal for locations that contain only fixed structures. However, it is challenging for open spaces such as loading docks where objects continuously move.

Although 3D LiDAR exists, 2D LiDAR is the standard sensor for industrial mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs), required for safety certification.

It is because 3D LiDARs are unsuitable for mobile robots due to computing and energy requirements.

However, 2D LiDARs sense only a thin sliver of the world, a single plane usually some 20 cm above the floor for most AMRs and AGVs. Any objects below or above that plane are invisible to it. For example, a 2D LiDAR will not detect an obstacle such as a forklift’s forks in their lowermost position.