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Definition: LIDAR

(LIght Detection And Ranging) An optical technology that senses the shape, motion and makeup of objects in the environment. It is used in a wide variety of disciplines, including airborne mapping, measuring atmospheric conditions and self-driving cars. LIDAR works by pulsing laser signals using all light ranges (ultraviolet, visible, infrared) and amplifying the light that is scattered back through an optical telescope and photomultiplier tube. Sometimes called "laser radar," LIDAR technically uses light waves and not "radio" waves (see radar). See self-driving car.

LIDAR in a Self-Driving Car
LIDAR can be used to sense objects in front, back and on the sides of a vehicle for all possible detection purposes. (Image courtesy of Phantom Intelligence, www.phantomintelligence.com)

Temi Moves on Its Own
The LIDAR module (red arrow) on the Temi personal robot is used to detect objects as it moves around the house. (Image courtesy of Temi, www.robotemi.com)