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INSIGHTS

In security, lidar can work wonders as well

In security, lidar can work wonders as well
Lidar has emerged as a rising star in security, with various applications. This note discusses how lidar works, its advantages over other security systems and verticals that can benefit from it.
Lidar has emerged as a rising star in security, with various applications. This note discusses how lidar works, its advantages over other security systems and verticals that can benefit from it.
 
We’ve discussed lidar applications in different fields. It is a necessity in autonomous vehicles. Amid the pandemic, lidar can also be an effective tool for monitoring social distancing.
 
Yet in good ol’ security, lidar also works wonders. It is a superb detection technology with intrusion detection and perimeter protection applications. And it has steadily gained grounds among users.
 
According to Industry ARC, the global lidar for security market size was valued at US$259.76 million in 2019. The reports estimates a CAGR of 15.5 percent during 2020-2025. “Growing demand for high security application in various industries such aerospace, defense, geospatial has been driving 3D laser scanning using lidar-based devices,” the report said.
 

Lidar advantages

 
Lidar stands for “light detection and ranging.” A lidar sensor emits laser pulses into the environment and calculates the distance of an object based on the time it takes for the pulses to travel back from the object. In the process lidar produces an in-depth, highly detailed 3D map of the sensor’s surroundings.
 
These unique characteristics make lidar an effective detection solution with certain advantages over other security systems. These advantages are discussed as follows.
 

Over cameras

 
Perhaps the biggest advantage lidar has over IP cameras is it's light-agnostic. “One characteristic that makes lidar very effective for security applications is the active measuring technology, meaning it provides its own light source. This helps lidar yield the same results irrespective of the lighting conditions,” said Florian Petit, Founder of Blickfeld. “For instance, cameras are severely limited by the lighting conditions and have problems in surveillance of areas at night. In contrast, lidars can operate seamlessly at any time of the day without any discernible difference in the data quality.”
 
Lidar’s ability to create 3D maps is another advantage. “Lidar produces real-time, high-resolution 3D maps, or point clouds, of the surroundings, demonstrating a level of distance accuracy that is unmatched by cameras, even ones with stereo vision. Cameras only produce 2D images of the environment, leaving them to make assumptions about an object’s distance,” Jon Barad, VP of Business Development at Velodyne.
 
Finally, lidar ensures privacy protection. “Lidar has another unique attribute that comes in handy when privacy needs to be protected. It preserves anonymity, because it detects, tracks, and classifies by sharing 3D point cloud data, and not video data,” said Akram Benmbarek, VP of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives at AEye.
 

Over radar

 
Lidar also has advantages over radar. “Like cameras, sensors such as radars have blind spots as well, because its technology is not refined enough to accurately identify objects. In addition, radar’s resolution, or image clarity, is relatively poor compared to lidar,” Barad said.
 

Over PIR sensors

 
Lidar also has object classification capabilities, something that traditional PIR sensors can’t accomplish. “Whereas lidar can classify and detect objects, such as a small child or a plastic bag, PIR sensors cannot; therefore it cannot successfully tell the difference between a child or a bag,” Barad added.
 
That is not to say, however, lidar should replace existing security systems. In fact, lidar complements other security devices to provide more value to the end user – for example, it detects something and activates a PTZ camera to zoom in on the subject. We’ll discuss this further in an upcoming article.
 

Verticals that can benefit

 
A range of vertical markets can benefit from lidar. “It can be suitable for any vertical looking to maximize detection, minimize false alarms, and improve classification capabilities. In the case of AEye lidar, it is more suitable for applications where you need a combination of long range and high resolution; that is, critical infrastructure, tunnel monitoring, corridor monitoring, government security, military assets, and harbor security,” Benmbarek said.
 
“Both airports and critical infrastructures are great examples of lidar security applications. In fact, Blickfeld sensors are currently employed at a large-scale project at Frankfurt airport with great success,” Petit said. “Other verticals include, for example, factory sites, embassies, or correctional facilities, so in essence, any premise that needs perimeter monitoring. Another significant application area is securing rooftops and detecting any trespassers.”
 
“Lidar-based security solutions increase effective threat response while reducing false readings that may hamper camera and radar-based technologies. We have airport security applications as well as public safety applications in stadiums, parks, casinos, office buildings,” Barad said.


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