Smaller Lidars Could Allow UAVs to Conduct Underwater Scans

The GTRI lightweight lidar prototype system uses a special green laser that penetrates water to considerable depths. GTRI researchers use it to study the best methods for producing accurate images of objects on the pool floor. All image credit: Rob FeltBathymetric lidars – devices that employ powerful lasers to scan beneath the water’s surface – are used today primarily to map coastal waters. At nearly 600 pounds, the systems are large and heavy, and they require costly, piloted aircraft to carry them.

A team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has designed a new approach that could lead to bathymetric lidars that are much smaller and more efficient than the current full-size systems.

The new technology, developed under the Active Electro-Optical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AEO-ISR) project, would let modest-sized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carry bathymetric lidars, lowering costs substantially.

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