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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
MAY 07, 2019
Picture this: Radar and LIDAR on the jobsite
Autonomous vehicles are developing quickly because of the economic gains they can generate. The construction industry is taking advantage of this progress, and is also moving closer to widespread self-driving construction vehicles. This discussion often references two types of sensing technology: LIDAR and radar. While most people have knowledge of radar and how it operates, many have not heard of LIDAR. Both technologies are currently being used in the development and advancement of the tele-remote and autonomous vehicle fields.
High-resolution imaging radar (4D) can provide point-cloud images of vehicles and their surrounding environment, which enables algorithms to recognize humans, equipment and other stationary objects in the sensor’s range of monitoring.
4D radar now has a wider field of vision — allowing for recognition on the sides of vehicles. The sensors can identify the location of objects, and information concerning range, speed and elevation up to 300 meters.
High-resolution imaging radar is very durable and works well in typical construction site conditions. The radar effectively penetrates dust, rain, snow and fog to provide high-resolution imaging — making this a must-have on autonomous construction equipment. This type of imaging also solves the current problem of high-resolution and low field of vision, versus low-resolution and wide field of vision. However, it still does not create the same level of imaging resolution as LIDAR.
LIDAR has the same principles as radar, but uses light from a laser, a scanner and GPS receiver to create images. It’s an optical remote-sensing technology that can measure distance to other features by illuminating the target with pulses of light, then measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.
LIDAR produces the image closest to that of the human eye. The image is generated in 3D representations and is instantaneously interpreted by computer algorithms — allowing the control units to react and respond in collaboration with other systems.
The technology works in normal jobsite operating conditions, but in more severe conditions the image is significantly degraded. This means LIDAR cannot be used as the only sensing system on construction equipment.
Combined high-resolution LIDAR and radar
The autonomous vehicle industry has been using collaborative systems, such as LIDAR and radar, for many years. It fuses these two solutions together to provide the best environmental mapping available. The combined sensors, along with their algorithms, can decide the best method of sensing based on environmental conditions. The system can seamlessly switch between radar and LIDAR.
This type of collaborative sensing is becoming available in the heavy construction market. Construction professionals believe this technology can help reduce costs, improve efficiency, address staffing challenges and improve safety.