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68 H undreds of millions of dollars are currently being spent on the development of smaller, lighter and more power-efficient laser sensors for unmanned systems. Early versions of the latest ones are already being integrated into new car designs, in preparation for fully autonomous operation. There is a certain irony that Lidar sensors were originally used as the payload in airborne systems for high- precision mapping but are now reaching high volumes with new designs in ground vehicles. But it is the integration of multiple Lidars into vehicle platforms that is fostering an explosive growth in the development of such systems. This is also leading to a divergence in the architectures being developed. Some sensors are being optimised for high- resolution mapping and object detection, while others are focusing more on accurate, high-performance object detection. There are also different levels of optimisation within the sensors, from complete standalone units to individual lasers, receivers and data processing. This is being driven partly by a wider range of sensing techniques such as scanning or flash lasers and partly by new solid-state manufacturing techniques. The original, large-scale technology uses a spinning mirror and a single laser to produce a series of laser pulses to scan a given area, and an array of photodiodes to detect the hundreds of thousands of reflections, called a point cloud. The resolution of the sensor is determined by the number of receive Nick Flaherty explains the different approaches, technologies and advantages of these laser-based sensing systems Light industry February/March 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology Lidar laser-based sensor subsystems from Quanergy have been integrated into the latest electric vehicle from Fiskar, the e-motion (Courtesy of Quanergy)