One of the advances in mapping technology that’s gaining a lot of momentum is the development and utilization of lidar, a more efficient and thorough method of area surveillance. Whereas radar forms images by deflecting radio waves to detect objects, lidar emits concentrated light in the form of laser signals that reflect off obstacles. Light is 1,000,000 times faster than sound, and such high speeds allow lidar devices to obtain data from a large number of laser pulses every second. Information is updated more frequently so as a result, more accurate data is received to form more detailed images.
The video below demonstrates how a lidar scan works by mapping out a rock quarry. The lidar sensors are mounted on a Vapor 55 UAV, which has an allowable payload up to 11 lb (and provides some indication on how lightweight these lidar systems can be).