Light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, is a type of remote sensing technology that is similar to radar. It is used in a variety of geographic and environmental applications to model and analyze the physical world.
Often mounted to an airplane or motor vehicle, the sensing unit uses radio waves and the measured time delay between pulse transmission and reflected pulse receipt to determine the distance from an object. There are two styles in which this data can be received by the unit. Some units use what is called “discrete-return,” which only records data at predetermined precise locations (space or time). Some refer to this style as “point” because it returns information specific to locations. The other type of data receipt is called “waveform,” which records data nearly continuously from the unit.