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Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is gradually becoming an established system to generate a detailed geo-referenced spatial data of the earth. Over time, the advancements in the LiDAR mapping systems and their enabling technologies have penetrated into different sectors like automotive, mining, corridor mapping & topographical survey, aerospace & defense, oil & gas etc. which has gradually increased its share in the market. Although primarily used in mining and oil & gas sector, the LiDAR technology is now also helping to map the built and natural environment for scientists and specialists with increased accuracy.

There have been some major drivers that have helped LiDAR garner good strides in attaining the market share it enjoys today. Some of these include LiDAR’s high capability inaccurate imaging of clouds, rain, rocks, woods and other atmospheric features using UV and IR light, and improvisations in automatic processing and advancements in data processing over traditional surveying technologies.  In addition to these, rapid technological developments in the automotive space are enhancing the market for LiDAR. Companies are now looking for an amalgamation of various technologies with LiDAR to enhance the overall performance of automobiles. Increased home security needs and enhanced environmental unease are other reasons responsible for the growing demand of the LiDAR market. The maximum market size of the global LiDAR Technology market is currently held by North America, followed by Europe and APAC respectively. This is due to the presence of a large number of companies that are headquartered in these regions and the high penetration rate of LiDAR devices in many different applications. However, the Asia-Pacific market is expected to exhibit a slightly higher growth over the next couple of years, overtaking the European market.

In spite of the various drivers working in favor of LiDAR, the technology is still growing moderately as far as the market size is concerned. One of the primary reasons for this is the expensive cost associated with the deployment of the technology. This high-cost characteristic of the system is denting its adoption. Many manufacturers are looking for substitutes that could replace the functionality of LiDAR systems using RADAR and other optical sensors. An average LiDAR system employed in autonomous cars costs around USD 60,000 to USD 80,000. The Velodyne LiDAR sensor employed by Google in its self-driving test vehicles costs around USD 75,000. Similarly, the cost of LiDAR systems employed in autonomous drones is expected to cost roughly USD 3,000. With such high costs associated with the deployment of these systems, the market for LiDAR is expected to struggle in order to gain consumer acceptance. Firms like Ford and Baidu are currently investing in this technology to rapidly reduce the cost of LiDAR systems. However, the technological barriers to achieving low cost and reliable LiDAR sensors are challenging, and with the current market scenario, the low-cost sensors are not expected to be realized until sometime. Thus, most companies and startups working on autonomous technologies are opting for different technologies to substitute the functionalities. The large size of sensors and lesser awareness about the technology are some other factors that are restricting the growth in this market. Some of the leading firms in the industry are also facing challenges in environmental, regulatory, and reliability concerns about airborne LiDAR.

Hence everything said and done; it is clear that though there are some factors which are currently challenging the growth of LiDAR, the technology is all set to become an “instrument of tomorrow” for gathering geo-referenced spatial information to aid the working of various other industries. This will take some time of course, as LiDAR technology is likely to grow moderately over the next 6-7 years.

Jay Karia

Author: Jay Karia

Digital Marketing Executive at Inkwood Research.

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