The world is growing fast. With the human population expected to reach roughly 9.7 billion by 2050, transportation professionals face an ever increasing challenge to keep people and goods moving safely and efficiently.
To meet this challenge, urban developers and city operators are adding intelligence to existing infrastructure, using the latest sensor technology to provide real-time information about the movement of pedestrians and motorists. These Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have become vital to urban planning, as, done well, they can improve road congestion, air quality, economic development, and safety, all while enabling the implementation of a smart, connected transportation ecosystem.
Intelligent Transportation Systems rely on detection technology to provide the best data quality at the highest level of accuracy. However, legacy detection methods, including cameras and radars, are unable to provide highly accurate depth information around the clock with the kind of fidelity required for reliable ITS deployments.
Cameras provide great resolution for feature extraction, but perform poorly in low light and adverse weather conditions; while radars perform well in adverse weather, but don’t have the resolution needed to classify objects – nor can they discern pedestrians from bicyclists or vehicles, especially at long distances.
Due to these limitations, municipalities are turning to lidar – the next big step in sensor technology – to access more reliable data in order to optimize traffic flow and improve transportation services.
Lidar is the only true, deterministic sensor that precisely identifies and locates objects in three-dimensional space. Lidar’s highly accurate measurements can then be used to detect and classify objects and provide the exact location, velocity, and trajectory of all road users, providing the most accurate data to drive decisions for automated incident detection (AID) applications such as highway, bridge, and tunnel monitoring.
Using a single lidar sensor, municipalities can rely on higher quality information, both in the near-range, and at distances greater than 350 meters, in all lighting and weather conditions. This results in improved smart intersection management and pedestrian safety, more up-to-date traffic data, and better connected vehicle initiatives. Not only that, lidar complements cameras and radars in existing ITS deployments, such as automated tolling, bridging the gap between the applications of today – and opportunities of tomorrow.
With lidar, cities can cut down on vehicle idling times, which reduces emissions. They can also deploy emergency assistance vehicles quicker, prioritize safety of pedestrians and cyclists at intersections, automate tolling, and give valuable time back to citizens.
Ultimately, lidar will help build a smarter, more connected infrastructure to ease congestion, reduce accidents, and improve safety and quality of life for everyone.