The coming shift from 4G to 5G cellular network technology often makes the news. Much less has been said about the move from 2-D satellite mapping to 3-D lidar mapping. This article from Geographical (UK) provides a peek at lidar.
"A self-driving car needs to know where it’s going. But if that car is going to not only transport its passengers from A-to-B, but also get them there alive, it needs to know a lot more. It needs to be able to locate every object around it – be it a lamppost, pothole or a wayward child – and it needs to make sense of that vast quantity of data in order to navigate. In short, it needs an incredibly detailed, 3D map. The maps we use every day aren’t yet up to the job. The most popular digital maps are largely stitched together from satellite imagery (GPS) and aerial photography, supplemented by people driving around in cars snapping photos. While this is ideal for most individuals going about their business, GPS is only accurate to about five metres and that’s nowhere near good enough to keep that driverless car out of trouble. ...
"Of all the tools utilised by these living maps, lidar is one of the most hyped. ... A lidar instrument fires rapid pulses of light at a surface and measures the time they take to return to the source. In doing so it can calculate the distance between itself and the object, building up a ‘map’ of the surface it is measuring that’s usually accurate to 15 cm vertically and 40cm horizontally. Lidar can help create slope and sunlight exposure maps of fields, enabling farmers to identify specific areas that need water or fertiliser; it can penetrate water in order to map the depth of rivers; it can even create images of particulate matter to build maps of pollution. ...
"In May, [the UK’s national mapping agency, the Ordnance Survey] announced the launch of trials to create a series of high-precision maps of lampposts, manholes, traffic lights and other objects on British roads. The trials will be conducted in partnership with an Intel-owned company called Mobileye and the maps are created by fitting-out vehicles with Mobileye’s 360-degree cameras. ... The idea is that cars owned by delivery groups, utility companies and members of the public will install Mobileye cameras, constantly gathering vast amounts of data as they go about their normal business. ... Northumbrian Water was the first to sign-up to the project; the maps can help utility companies identify and monitor the condition of above-ground and underground assets, though this is really only the beginning. ... With so much imagery and data being collected, what about data protection?"
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