Difference between Lidar and Radar

Lidar and Radar are often mixed up with each other. Although, the basic purpose of both the technologies is the same i.e. to detect the properties of distant objects. However, there is a considerable difference between the two.

Lidar detects the properties of a target by throwing laser light on it. On the other hand, Radar transmits radio waves in the air and gets them back to assess the properties of an object.

Moreover, Lidar is used in geomatics, laser altimetry and contour mapping etc. In contrast, Radar is used to control air traffic, radar astronomy, aircraft anti-collision systems and meteorological precipitation monitoring etc.


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    Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) is a equipment which is used to sense, measure and detect the distance and properties of a particular target by the help of laser light. It can simply be called as an optical remote sensing equipment. It has many different applications some of which include archaeology, geology, geography, geomatics, laser altimetry and contour mapping, seismology, forestry, remote sensing, geomorphology and atmospheric physics.

    In military contexts, it is also used as LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging). Moreover, the term ‘laser radar’ is also used when Lidar doesn’t include radio waves or microwaves in its detection so as to conduct a specific search. The statistical measurements of Lidar metrics, created from 3D point, are generally used to make predictions about the forest variables in Lidar data.

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    Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) uses radio waves to determine the altitude, range, direction or speed of an object. It is a system which detects aircrafts, spacecrafts, guided missiles, ships and motor vehicles. Moreover, it is also used to attain information regarding the weather and terrain. It transmits radio waves from an antenna into the air and gets back signals after those waves hit the objects. In this way, it assesses the speed and other properties of the object which can provide great help in managing air traffic and military operations.

    It was developed by several countries during the Second World War. The term radar came into scene in 1940 by the United States of America Navy. With the development in the field, it has been used for more diversified operations. Its modern uses include air-defence systems, radar astronomy, aircraft anti-collision systems, meteorological precipitation monitoring, altimetry and flight control systems, guided missile target locating systems, antimissile systems, marine radars to place landmarks and other ships, ocean surveillance systems, outer space surveillance, rendezvous systems and ground-penetrating radar for the geological observations.

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