LiDAR Market and its Key Opportunities and Challenges

The LiDAR market was valued at USD 677.5 Million in 2017 and is estimated to reach USD 1,809.5 Million by 2023, at a CAGR of 17.2% as per a report by MarketsandMarkets.

The LiDAR market was valued at USD 677.5 Million in 2017 and is estimated to reach USD 1,809.5 Million by 2023, at a CAGR of 17.2%  as per a report by MarketsandMarkets. 

Why increasing number of new applications demanding LiDAR technology could provide more opportunities?

In various types of geospatial applications, such as infrastructure inspection, mobile mapping, and area inspection, it is necessary to capture the accurate form of data for measurement and tracking purpose. For infrastructure inspection, data is captured from a stationary location, whereas mobile mapping utilizes a moving platform to acquire data. However, area inspection captured data from an aerial platform that flies over the project area during the data acquisition phase.

This is expected to lead to the increase in a number of terrestrial projects, including the construction of roadways, dams, and railways, thereby leading to the requirement for the LiDAR technology. The LiDAR technology uses laser scanning that offers multifaceted data acquisition approach. Based on the variety of hardware and software packages, there are various types of LiDAR techniques, such as terrestrial LiDAR, mobile LiDAR, and aerial LiDAR. Thus, the demand for the LiDAR technology is likely to increase for collecting highly accurate data in a wide variety of applications ranging from logistics to military and defense. Therefore, it would create an opportunity for LiDAR equipment manufacturers to manufacture LiDAR for each application requirement.

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Why high cost of LiDAR services for surveying applications remain a challenge?

LiDAR has been deemed as a high-cost surveying method compared to the conventional methods. Currently, the cost of the aerial LiDAR systems can be as high as USD 75,000–85,000 and even more than that, depending on the application for which it is being used. A project for surveying an area having a flat surface or moderate terrain may cost around USD 200–300 per square mile for the point spacing of 3 m. The costs for surveying the same area may rise to USD 350–450 per square mile if the project demands the point spacing of 1 m. Over the past few years, the number of LiDAR equipment and service providers, especially in the Northern US, has improved significantly. The transportation of crew and equipment from the base to the project site (especially in airborne LiDAR applications) is one of the major factors contributing to the cost of LiDAR services. Though the costs of LiDAR service are likely to reduce with the entry of more number of players in the global market, currently, LiDAR is not a cost-effective surveying option for the small-area projects.

Environmental traits affecting the performance of LiDAR systems

LiDAR mapping is gaining acceptance as a technique for getting precise spatial information about the shape and surface characteristics of the earth. LiDAR systems emit pulses of light, generally ultraviolet (UV) light or near-infrared (NIR), and detect the refracted light. These light pulses cannot penetrate clouds, rain, snow, or dense fog. Hence, while during any LiDAR mapping project, the weather constraints need to be considered before scheduling the survey.

In case of bathymetric LiDAR systems for coastline mapping, apart from the consideration of a clear sky, the water surface should also be clear for the light pulses to get reflected and refracted properly. LiDAR systems may not generate desired results in case of windy and stormy weather.

Increasing use of drones equipped with LiDAR for greater accuracy

The use of LiDAR-equipped drones is continuously rising owing to their portability and versatility. The primary advantages of the drones are as follows: they can reach the places that are inaccessible to humans or human-driven vehicles, and they are perfect for the tasks that are excessively troublesome or hazardous for humans. For example, the drones can be used to reach oil refineries to assess flare stacks or structures, and towns or neighborhoods that have been hit by storms, floods, and fires.

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